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
Like other pieces of furniture which are now regarded as modern classics, Oxchair was ahead of its time when it was launched in 1960. Making use of superior craftsmanship skills Hans J. Wegner had created a sophisticated and demanding construction. Among the jobs it does, and one that lies close to Wegner’s heart, is to make it possible to sit comfortably in many different ways so that one can change position continously. Only then can one sit really comfortably. It is Wegner’s own favourite chair at home.
To mark the 50th anniversary of the Oxchair, an exclusive limited edition of Oxchair is offered in select premium quality vegetable tanned leather. The leather is called Alpha and comes in three colors black, natural and burgundy red. The seats are numbered and marked with a special anniversary tag. In addition, anyone who buys an anniversary Oxchair will receive an exclusive anniversary book. This anniversary book is in the same limited edition as chair and can not be obtained otherwise. The purchaser of commemorative chair is invited to visit the Erik Jorgensen factory in Svendborg, Denmark.
50th Anniversary Edition by Special Request: Erik Jørgensen Oxchair by Hans J. Wegner
Oxchair, by Hans J. Wegner (1914-2007) 50th Anniversary Edition, by Erik Jørgensen
Over the last year we’ve seen continued economic stagnancy. Many architects have been hard hit. How has your residential practice dealt with the downturn?
When the recession hit we were affected like everyone else. But starting this year work has been picking up and most of the projects we had in the pipeline are back on track. We’ve also acquired a few new residential projects on both coasts with more in the development stage. I guess we’ve been lucky. We just hope things continue to get better for everyone, not worse.
Are you seeing a turnaround?
We have seen a few hospitality projects pick back up as well as some luxury developments, which we see as a good sign of the global economy. Somehow Israel seems to have weathered the global recession quite well. We have a 37-story residential tower in the heart of Tel Aviv that is finally underway. It is right in the heart of the city and we hope it becomes a landmark and a new standard for design in Tel Aviv.
The biggest buzzword in the industry now is sustainability. How does today’s call for an ecologically sensitive architecture differ from that of the 1970s?
We were always making sustainable buildings, even in the 70s and 80s, they just weren’t calling it that back then. Not many people realize that the Getty was the first LEED Certified building, awarded after the fact. It comes back to our design philosophy. Daylight and energy consumption have informed our design for years. Today we are taking it to new levels, incorporating new technologies like double skin facades for heating and cooling buildings, self-cleaning, pollution-eating concrete and vertical light-reflecting louvers that rotate with the sun.
You design houses for some of the world’s most connected individuals. Is “environmental impact” a topic that generally comes up in your discussions with clients?
It depends on the client. Some clients want a “green” building and are willing to spend the money. We always try to suggest sustainable materials and propose sustainable ideas, but these are sometimes costly. Luckily we have a client base that tends to be very educated on these issues and often see it as a worthwhile investment.
Is the building industry ready to absorb the kind of environmentally focused change people are talking about?
Yes, they have to be. Legislation will soon require environmental codes and energy conservation. A handful of states and cities already require new public buildings to meet sustainable design benchmarks, such as the U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED. We estimate that in the next 25 years, three quarters of US buildings will be new or substantially renovated. The cutting edge of this effort will be to design buildings that generate their own energy through new technologies and reuse rain water to lesson the depletion of natural resources.
What do you think of prefab as a building alternative?
In general, it’s an interesting concept when tight schedules are critical as it can drastically reduce construction timeframes. Some other apparent advantages include assurance of quality control and very efficient coordination efforts due to the use of programs like Revit from the beginning of design to fabrication. It can also eventually help reduce costs over traditional construction methods. In terms of sustainability, it reduces construction waste in a controlled environment. There are however still a lot of limitations and caveats mainly related to transport and guaranties. But the concept has existed for many years, and actually most curtain walls we design are prefabricated in shops and shipped to construction sites ready for installation.
As a building alternative, it could potentially lend itself to our approach, as it is becoming more customizable especially with new technologies and applications currently available and continuously evolving. It has gained more popularity recently, especially after MoMa’s Home Delivery exhibition, with more new firms and young architects exploring concepts that deal with economical and modern solutions.
Name one building type that you’ve always wanted to do but has thus far eluded you.
What was the design lesson you’ve learned since building your first house?
There is no such thing as “natural” materials.
What are the most challenging demands that a residential client has made of you?
Lastly, what current project on your boards, residential or otherwise, most excites you and why?
We have a lot of interesting projects on at the moment. I’m very excited about the apartment tower in Tel Aviv. Apparently there is a giant billboard with my face on it right now in place of the actual building. I hope they can take that down soon.
We are also building a new 30,000 SF home in Tianjin which is on a private island surrounded by an 18-hole Phil Mickelson Golf Course. It is a beautiful home. It has a tea room, a party room, a dining room that seats 60. It is quite a house.
And there is a new 10,000 SF private home in Long Island we are working on. It’s in a beautiful location, with a beach pavilion on the water, and has a lot of the curves and light in our signature work. I love doing houses. I feel it’s a bit indulgent, so then I take on a cultural or civic project to balance it out. I’ve always been a proponent of building beautiful public spaces, but creating a personal sanctuary is also satisfying.
Richard Meier has been awarded with the highest international honors in architecture including the AIA Gold Medal from the American Institute of Architects (1997), Praemium Imperiale from the Japanese Government for Lifetime Achievement in the Arts (1997), a Fellow to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences (1995), Deutscher Architekturpreis (1993), Officier de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres from the French Government (1992), Royal Gold Medal from the Royal Institute of British Architects (1989) and the Pritzker Prize for Architecture (1984). Richard Meier is celebrated for his acclaimed designs including The Getty Center and the Museum of Television & Radio in Los Angeles, California; the High Museum of Art in Atlanta, Georgia; the Charles Street and Perry Street residential towers in New York; the Museum of Contemporary Art, Barcelona, Spain; the Ara Pacis Museum in Rome, Italy; and the Arp Museum in Rolandseck, Germany. His current projects include an 8-star hotel in China (2011), Rothschild Tower in Tel Aviv (2013), an urban master plan for Newark, NJ (2012) and a residential tower in San Francisco (2012).
Read more about Richard Meier