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Replicas

Even the greatest artists of all time are 'inspired' by what happens around them, past and present. So much of what emerges at a specific moment in time culturally has some remarkable similarities. This is seen everywhere, including in architecture, and even more so recently as what is built in Sydney or Stellenbosch is often seen in Singapore and San Francisco instantly via social media. 
 
The 'international style' is nothing new. However, there are parts of the world that have something entirely unique, for example, the Eiffel tower in Paris or the Empire State Building in New York City, until they are not. Tianducheng in China is a planned community that began around 2007 and its central feature is a 354-foot replica of the Eiffel Tower and 12 square miles of Parisian-style architecture, fountains and landscaping. Think 'New York, New York' in Las Vegas. Then think of restaurant Sant Ambroeus in Milan, founded in 1936, and now a chain seen from East Hampton to Palm Beach to Aspen....
 
Christina Onassis would notoriously attend Christian Dior couture shows and order three of each, one for New York, one for Paris and one for the yacht. Familiarity is comfort. Reliability. It's easy. And its safety. There is little guessing or trial-and-error. In the 1920's-1930's the International Style of architecture emerged. Seated in an Aman Hotel paying eye-watering prices could confuse you as to where you might be located as so many have begun to look alike. Eerie similarity for some is extreme comfort to others.
 
Now look at many of the homes being built around the world. Is there anything location-distinctive about them? Or do they follow a very similar-to-identical playbook of the accepted style of the moment?  I saw a rendering of a Robert AM Stern designed building in West Palm Beach the other day which looked like a New York replica with palm trees. I bet it will be a huge hit and set record prices.
 
Any homeowner, builder or buyer who can install elements to their home that are distinctive, memorable and authentically relevant to their location may indeed be creating the biggest value-driver of all in a sea of sameness, especially as we see a massive de-globalization movement happening.....and things are appearing to veer more towards localization. And customization.

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