Sir Edwin Lutyens on the Moon

Did you know the moon is black? I discovered this last year when my brother came to visit me here in RI. We visited the RI Statehouse (basically across the street from my apartment), which is lovely and sort of falling apart. Big McKim, Mead & White mess. What does this have to do with the moon? Well, the whole Statehouse is full of precious tchotchkes, including a sliver of the moon encased in a lucite cube. And it's black, very very black. My brother Andy (who, truth be told, is a knowitall) was shocked I didn't know the moon was black. Apparently it is, and blacker than anything on Earth. It's simply blasted with so much light from the sun that it reflects white. Or yellow, depending on our smoggy atmosphere.

Gigi Gatewood, Mare Basalt

I would like now to talk about Sir Edwin Lutyens, one of the greatest designers of the last couple hundred years. My vote for the most beautiful eulogy to the death of the English Empire would fall squarely on the work of Lutyens, whose cottages and municipal buildings were portraits of the English as they would most like to be seen. He rendered the English class system sweet and small in Queen Mary's exquisite Dollhouse of 1924:

For whatever reason, I think he's most often associated with a certain chalky white (maybe all those limestone facades), but he loved black and used it judiciously in his interiors.

And once, years ago, I saw an image of his own dining room, painted a fantastically flat and deep black. All corners were freed from the reality of their geometry, and the relatively small space was rendered endless. I knew then and there that I must have a black dining room, which remains an unresolved desire.

But given the supposed extreme black of the moon, I think the only thing to do is smear the walls of my black dining room with moon dust. And that is why I would like to be an astronaut.

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