The Nation: Solitude

What price privacy? At the moment, $80,000 and up. That is the tag on a custom-made "contemplative environment"—the latest extravaganza offered in the Neiman-Marcus department-store Christmas catalogue. "Very basically, it's enclosure, the womb," declares the environment's design chief, Richard Stonis. While it is not exactly Walden Pond, the plush private world is like a self-contained dollhouse that can be outfitted with film screens to show custom-made movies, a stand-up bar, isometric exercise equipment, a round water bed and anything else the purchaser might desire.

What's more, the room comes in various curved and linear designs, and generally is equipped with a small...

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