Architecture student analyzes the history of Barbie dollhouses from ‘a design perspective’: ‘Barbie became the elite’  

Reeves Connelly (@reevcon), a 26-year-old architecture and design student based in New York City, has taken to TikTok to share his “favorite detail” about the forthcoming Barbie movie — and it has everything to do with the evolution of Barbie’s dollhouses.

“This right here is my favorite detail about the Barbie movie. No, it’s not Ryan Gosling,” Reeves begins. “It’s actually the fact that the architecture is modeled after Barbie dollhouses.”


dont get me wrong ryan is up there too

♬ original sound – Reeves Connelly

Reeves launches into the history of Barbie’s house, starting with its first iteration, which was released in 1962. Given its inexpensive composition, this first Dreamhouse was available for purchase for $4.44.

“Her first house was actually made out of cardboard, so she was going through it,” Reeves reveals. “But the houses get better throughout the years, so let’s talk about them from a design perspective.”

In 1965, Mattel debuted the “Barbie and Skipper Deluxe Dreamhouse.”

“Starting in the ’60s, they had her living inside a briefcase, sharing a twin bed with her sister,” Reeves explains, referencing the plastic, portable house.

In 1977, Barbie leveled up and moved into a three-story townhouse — with a working elevator! — after “Mattel finds out what a column is.”

Two years later, Barbie moves into an A-frame house complete with an open floor plan.

“In 1979, Barbie gets a modernist A-frame house and her very own version of a plastic Togo sofa,” he says, referencing the creation of experimental Ligne Roset designer Michel Ducaroy.

1986 marked the year when Mattel ushered in Barbie’s now-iconic pink color scheme.

“In the ’80s, we got some nice skylight action going on, and what probably marks the inception of the pink tax and Barbie’s signature color,” he continues.

1990, on the other hand, was the year Mattel debuted Barbie’s “Magical Mansion,” one of its most elaborate Dreamhouse designs to date.

“In the ’90s, Barbie ditches her modernist house and her kitchen, apparently, because who needs that when you live in an estate?” Reeves quips.

In the year 2000, Barbie goes Victorian with her opulent lilac digs.

“Cut to the early 2000s, and Barbie lives in a Victorian mansion,” he explains. “The kitchen is back, and now there’s an elevator to remind us that we’ll never be on her level.”

In 2008, Reeves notes that the recession hit, but Barbie remained unfazed inside her three-story Dreamhouse, which was exclusive to Toys “R” Us and featured a toilet that actually “flushed.”

“I mean, she got a spiral staircase to match the spiraling housing crisis,” he says.

The 2015 Dreamhouse was the first to feature a functioning garage door for Barbie’s car.

The latest iteration of Barbie’s Dreamhouse, which debuted in 2021, is essentially a haven for content creators that features a pool, slide and wheelchair-accessible elevator.

“In 2021, Mattel drops a Dreamhouse for content creation,” Reeves says. “I was gonna make fun of this, but I’m literally making a TikTok about Barbie houses.”

“I had the 2000’s house and i can confirm that it started my obsession with victorian architecture”

Reeves’ video, which has more than 4 million views and 572,700 likes in a week of posting, has resonated with fellow Barbie aficionados. Commenters are reminiscing about the Barbie dollhouses they played with growing up.

“I had a 1 story house in the late 90s so obv my Barbie was poor,” one user wrote.

“I had the 2000’s house and i can confirm that it started my obsession with victorian architecture,” another replied.

“i HAD THE 2008 ONE it was iconic,” someone revealed.

“Barbie became the elite,” a TikToker joked.

Greta Gerwig’s Barbie, which hits theaters on July 21, 2023, sees Margot Robbie as the titular heroine who, after being banished from Barbieland, enters the real world in search of happiness. As Reeves notes, the film, with all of its pink and plastic delight, features an impressive architectural nod to previous Dreamhouses — and we can’t wait to see it on the big screen.

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