Anna Sten, the Ukrainian film actress, and her film producer husband Dr. Eugene Frenke, came to Hollywood under the aegis of Samuel Goldwyn. Goldwyn thought he had found his “Russian Garbo,” but had failed to reconcile that hope with Sten’s inability to speak English in the age of talking pictures. Just after their arrival, the couple hired fellow émigré Richard Neutra to design a house for them in the hills of Santa Monica.
The house Neutra built for Sten and Frenke was a simple European style modern house washed a light grey cement color. Sited on a double lot, it occupied only one, and was surrounded by a wall of rough cast “California” blocks. Although the house looks like modern concrete houses in France and Germany, it is remarkable for the amount of continuous glass ribbon it supports on its wooden “balloon frame” construction.
In 2005 the Sten-Frenke House was photographed by legendary photographer Julius Shulman. Although Shulman’s career began the same year the house was completed, in 1934, he didn’t photograph it until the 2005 restoration was finished. Post-restoration, the house had never looked better and with all the passion of a man half his 95 years, Shulman spent two remarkable days scouring the site for photographs. His images will forever define the house.
Sten-Frenke House, Santa Monica, California, by Richard Neutra, Pentagram Architects
Wright is set to auction a spectacular set of clocks designed by George Nelson for the Howard Miller Clock Company of Zeeland, Michigan.
Triangle Wall Clock, model 2225A, 1955; Clocknik Table Clock, model 2270, 1959; Wall Clock, model 2237, 1957; Platter Wall Clock, model 2274A, 1959, by Howard Miller Clock Company, Auction at Wright
AD has unearthed some rare photos of the Miller House by designed by Eero Saarinen. Completed in 1957 for industrialist and philanthropist J. Irwin Miller and his family in Columbus, Indiana, the Miller House and Garden embodies midcentury Modernism in it’s fullest. Architect Eero Saarinen‘s steel and glass composition has held together very well, proving the quality and use of materials to be worthy of time. Not the first building designed for these clients by Saarinen, the initial intention of Miller and his wife was to create a year-round dwelling that could be used to entertain business guests from around the world, also doubling as a good environment to raise their children. As head of Cummins Engine, was to create civic and institutional buildings in their town located 45 miles from Indianapolis, hoping to transform and reinvent into a hub of inventive design. Eero Saarinen worked with interior designer Alexander Girard and landscaper Daniel Kiley to best fulfill the ideas he had in mind for the house and garden.
An architectural tradition developed by Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, this house encompasses some of the most fundamental aspects of the international Modernist aesthetic, including an open and flowing layout, flat roof and vast stone and glass walls. Saarinen also included ideas of the main walls of public areas extending from floor to ceiling and cut out of marble several inches thick. The exposed edges eliminate a sense of separation between interior and nature through use of huge panes of glass.
Miller House, 1957, by Eero Saarinen,
Photography © Indianapolis Museum of Art, Garden Visit, via: arch daily
When the Hagerty House was built in 1938 along the rocky coastline of Cohasset, Massachusetts, the stodgy Yankee neighbors were appalled. The minimalist International Style structure may have sat in sharp contrast to the area’s traditional shingle, Federalist, and Greek Revival architecture, but it helped blaze a trail for the modern century to come. The story of the home begins in 1937, when Walter Gropius, the pioneering founder of Germany’s Bauhaus and a recent émigré to the United States, accepted a teaching position at Harvard’s Graduate School of Design. After coming under increasing attack from the Nazi regime for his non-conformist, left-leaning ideas and spending almost three years in England with the modernist Isokon group, Gropius, with his wife, Ise, relocated to Cambridge, Massachusetts. At Harvard, Gropius would exert a profound influence over the minds of a generation of architects whose work would shape America’s built environment for decades to come.
Hagerty House, by Walter Gropius, via: dwell
Cassina presents two new re-editions of the iconic 699 Superleggera chair designed by Gio Ponti for the Cassina I Contemporanei Collection. Alongside the current natural ash-wood, black lacquered and white lacquered chairs with an Indian cane seat, new variants taken from Cassina’s late 1950’s production are available with colourful padded seats in removable leather or fabric. This version, with 450 possible combinations, has a natural ash-wood frame that can be open pore varnished in black or white, elegantly revealing the true essence of the wooden structure. The second re-edition, inspired by a model designed by Ponti in the 1950’s for exhibitions but which was never serially produced, has a stunning bicolour black and white lacquered frame and padded white or graphite leather seat. “In the darkness” said Ponti “it will be even lighter because it will be supported by just two legs”.
Gio Ponti regarded the Superleggera chair as one of his three masterpieces (together with the Pirelli Tower in Milan and the Concattedrale of Taranto). It represents a symbol of perfection and balance between solidity and lightness, with a triangular section of just 18 millimetres and a minimum weight of 1,700 grams. It is the fruit of Gio Ponti’s research and the experimental and creative ability and expertise of Cassina and its craftsmen, who have produced this chair non-stop since 1957.
699 Superleggera Chair, by Gio Ponti, for Cassina
Gio Ponti (1891–1979) was one of Italy’s most influential designers whose work includes automobiles, furniture, interiors, and buildings. Working in a multitude of materials, he is a pivotal figure in the history of twentieth-century architecture and design, and his work continues to inspire young designers who are increasingly rediscovering it today. This expansive and exhaustively researched monograph chronicles the complete spectrum of Gio Ponti’s output, from early ceramic work as design director for Richard Ginori to his last and most famous architectural works, Milan’s Pirelli Tower and the Museum of Modern Art in Denver. Also featured are Ponti’s automobile designs for Alfa Romeo, interiors for Italian luxury liners, bathroom fixtures for American Standard, the famous Superleggera chair for Cassina, and the Alitalia offices in New York.
Gio Ponti, Edited by Ugo La Pietra, Hardcover, 8-7/8 x 11, ISBN: 9780847832705
Buy it Here: Amazon
The design of the Hotel and Restaurant Astoria in Trondheim included the entry area with the cloakroom, the day restaurant with the wintergarten, an evening restaurant with dance floor as well as a self-service restaurant. Verner Panton used the textile design Geometry I to IV for floors, walls and ceilings in order to give the room a uniform image. The chairs are various versions of the Panton Cone Chair and the Heart Cone Chair. The chairs grouped around the tables and the Topan lights work together to divide the large room into individual seating areas with an intimate note.
Chess grand master Bobby Fischer specifically requested the Time Life Lobby Chair designed by Charles and Ray Eames while he competed in the World Chess Championship in Reykjavik In 1972. He said he could concentrate well in the chair. When his opponent Boris Spaasky saw it, he refused to play until he got one too. Vitra has produced a short video on this historical event.
Time Life Lobby Chair, by Charles and Ray Eames
Tapio Wirkkala is best known for designing the original Finlandia Vodka bottle, inspired by the elements in his native Finland. This series of five bottles in Murano glass, employs the “Incalmo” technique where two different types of glass, worked separately, are fused together.
Bolle Bottles, 1968, by Tapio Wirkkala, for Venini
Part of the Permanent Collection of the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) New York, the Sarpaneva cast iron pot was inspired by Timo Sarpaneva’s memories of his shamanistic grandfather who was a also a blacksmith.
Designed in 1960, this pot is so famous that it was featured in a collection of postage stamps celebrating the Finish Design Elite. Apart from its aesthetic merits, it’s also highly practical and designed for everyday use and enjoyment. You can use it in the oven, on the stove and as a beautiful presentation pot. Cast iron is one of the best materials for cooking because it stores heat and cooks evenly and gently. With its clever removable wooden handle, you can easily lift the lid off the pot and carry it from the stove to your table.
Born in 1926 in Helsinki, Timo Sarpaneva was one of the great personalities responsible for the world reputation of Finnish design since the 1950s. Sarpaneva was Doctor HC of the Royal College of Art in London and the University of Art and Design in Helsinki and Academician HC of the University of Mexico.
Iittala Sarpaneva Cast Iron Pot, by Timo Sarpaneva
A 17-minute film by Marcel Meili and Christoph Schaub unviels the story of ‘Il Girasole’ the rotating modernist house built into the Po Valley hillside in northern Italy. Affectionately termed ‘The Sunflower’, the house was built in the 1930s by architects Angelo Invernizzi and Ettore Fagiuoli, with the help of their artist, sculptor, furniture-maker and architect friends. Powered by an electric motor, Il Girasole is able to rotate a full 360 degrees on its circular base, highly radical in the way that all the components of the house (including its courtyard) are part of the structure’s rotational sphere. The film is simple and direct, juxtaposing the unveiling of the imposing house’s engineering detail and history with intimate re-enactments of the architect and his wife interacting with the space, narrated throughout by the architect’s daughter.
Il Girasole House, by Angelo Invernizzi and Ettore Fagiuoli, via: Wallpaper