When you walk into Joan Kron's condominium -- the first thing you see is you. A huge expanse of mirror, hiding all sorts of built-in storage, including the non-High Tech vases and the liquor, is set into a new wall where the hall closet was.
Having combed your hair, in answer to the mirror, the game is to look around and see how many High Tech objects you can find. It's like an Easter Egg hunt.
The walls are painted a glossy meatmarket white. The wall-to-wall carpeting and most of the upholstery is adding-machine gray. At first glance, it looks impressively like Fritz Lang and his futuristic movies of the early '20s in Germany.
Over there by the window are laboratory beakers holding a forest of tree branches. All along the back of the sofa and above the winding counter are nine Luxo drafting table lamps, Kron's answer to the ubiquitous track lighting. An ancient toy typewriter sits on a tile counter.
The one single chair in the room is the Knoll Pollock chair on heavy casters. Oh yes, the one bright painting in the room is of a Standard Oil station, by Edward Ruscha. A janitor's supply basket holds the mail. Several immense Rolodexes hold telephone numbers.
In the dining room a factory light, complete with the protective wire under basket, hangs over the dining table. The table top is a hunk of marble left over from the World Trade Center, finished with a mat surface that doesn't show stains as much. "I used a honed finish in my former kitchen in Philadelphia. It shows the least," said Kron.
The honed finish is the sort candy makers use.
In the back hall is a metal bookcase, the familiar dark gray erector set type, holding the Thomas Register and the Sweet's Catalogues -- those compendiums of manufacturer's specs out of which "High Tech," the book, was conceived. Coffee comes in a white mug.It looks familiar. Nedicks? Yes. In the study, wire baskets attach to shelves to hold clutter. There are enough typewriters to start a typing pool: two electrics, a manual, a portable. "I need them. What if one breaks down?" says Kron.
The pillowcase that says "Department of Mental Health," produced for a mental institution and the great Christmas present for High Tech fanciers, is nowhere to be seen. Kron says her supplier was sold out for Christmas.
Also not to be seen is the mammoth Xerox machine that they rented when they were working on the book. The boxes with all the cards and background information are now piled up in the den. The counter did yeoman duty as the repository of all the research when Kron's apartment was the "High Tech" book office.
Now that the treasure hunt is over, it's fair to look around and see what isn't High Tech at all. When you talk about it and look hard, you find the High Tech look is not really very fundamental to the apartment at all. It could all be swept up in a janitor's cleaning cart and carried off to be replaced with baroque nicknacks for a totally different look.
Which may be what Kron, who admits she's fickle, has in mind.
Much of the apartment turns out to be custom-made, not prefab at all.
"When I did this apartment six years ago," Kron says, "I told my architect, David Beck of Philadelphia, that I wanted everything to be built in, or look built-in, because I am a big furniture mover otherwise.
"We wanted lots of places for magazines, newspapers and plants -- my husband, likes plants. We wanted it to work for parties but not be a party house."
Beck's great achievement is the counter, a flowing, curving cantilevered entity that begins in the front hall by the door, and curves around the living room, a lower section forms a banquette, a higher one a bar. A platform holds plants. The counter is surfaced in matt white tile. Cutouts allow the lamp wires to go through.It was fabricated by two young sculptors.
"We had it made in sections," said Kron, "so it would come up in the elevator and so we could remove it to clean the air conditioning system."
The apartment worked well at Christmas, says Kron, when they had 18 for dinner -- including his and her children. Two round tables -- one in the dining area, one in the living room -- both have round bases, one expensively custom made in a metal-working shop. "Post book, I'd just buy one at a restaurant supply," Kron says.
In the guest bedroom, platforms go around the room, with upholstered foam sections on top. It sleeps a number of visiting children. In the master bedroom, one wall is mirrored with those cheap mirror squares -- they're neatly organized in a pattern that seems sculptural. Ah yes, there's the recliner, covered in white plastic. "I've had two husbands," says Kron. "I would never let my first band have a recliner, so after I left he bought two ugly ones. So I bought my second husband this one. I don't think it's too bad. It's from my white fake leather period."
All Kron took from her house with her first husband was an art deco standing ash tray and a metal sculpture of two hands.
So now that the apartment is finished and the book is done, and Kron knows all these fabulous places to buy things, what would she add to her home?
"I'm thinking about a Louis XV chair, to put right in the middle of the living room," she said.