The Secrets of Modernism — LiveModern: Your Best Modern Home
You’d think with the amount of time we architects spend in school, all the esoteric titles on our book-shelves, and the cryptic language we use amongst one another at dinner parties that the keys to understanding modernism would be complicated, scholarly and difficult to comprehend. You’d be led to believe that the fruits of modern design are only achieved after years of study and monastic-like internships; the culmination of having actually read all of those books on our shelves. It’s what many of us architects would like you to believe. These diversions do a good job of justifying why we write “manifestos” that nobody understands and they validate why we need to take out a second mortgage to afford all of those linen hardcover books.
But the fact of the matter is that good modern design can be boiled down to a handful of basic principles; principles that you don’t need a Ph.D. in architecture to understand. Today’s post is an explanation of five simple codes of modernism. Over the years, we’ve found that these 5 are present in almost every good example of modernism and they matter more than all of the obscure styles, trends and fashions put together. Granted, good modern design requires more than just these principles, but these 5 will get you most of the way there.
1. Line things up. Seriously, just line things up. As simple and obvious as this sounds, we’re constantly blown-away at the variety of architecture out there with features that should line up, but don’t. And as soon as you notice, you can’t stop noticing. One of our favorite examples of lining things up gets built into every home and commercial space that we do. We have a simple diagram on our cover sheet indicating that all door handles, light switches, shower controls and towel bars are to vertically align (basically anything that you reach out to touch or operate occurs in the same plane). You may not cognitively recognize what’s going on in a home where everything aligns, there’s just a visual harmony that works. But once you do notice, well…
Read the whole thing. Seriously. This isn’t rocket science we’re talking about here. No need to complicate things unnecessarily.
Understanding “Mid-Century Modern” – The Hour Publishing Company: Real Estate
The term mid-century modern is sometime mistaken as any style structure built between the1940′s and 1960′s. It’s more than that, a distinctive form of architecture sometimes called “California Contemporary,” mid century modern architecture is usually defined through its clean lines, open floor plans, walls of glass, and the feeling of living within nature. These buildings constructed between the 1940′s through the late 1960′s by innovative architects with their simplistic styles were ahead of their time. Norwalk, Westport, Weston, Stamford, and especially New Canaan all have some very fine examples of this type of architecture currently for sale.
I like to highlight these sorts of articles when I find them. Their continued publication helps keep the MCM ethos alive.
House of the Week: Mid-Century Modern Masterpiece (VIDEO) | Zillow Blog
I love that wavy, curving roof. Check out the entire slideshow. It’s a good one!
braxton and yancey: Mid-Century Modern Homes
Check out the rest of the photospread! Great stuff!
Build Blog » 10 Forgotten Lessons of Mid-Century Modern Design
4. Connecting the inside to the outside creates harmony with the site. One of the subtlest, albeit most pleasing, design moves in MCM design is the intentional move to extend the material of a wall from inside to outside (or vice versa). This could be an exterior brick wall that extends into an entry area or an interior cedar wall that continues out to frame a courtyard.
5. Old school passive design is highly sustainable. There are a lot of terms being thrown around these days; sustainability, passive house design, and the overly abused “green-design”. Whether these terms actually benefit the home or environment depends on the situation, but the classic examples of passive design are so sensible that they should be incorporated into every house (and without throwing around a bunch of marketing terms). One of the best examples of this occurs at the roof: well designed eaves are calibrated to keep the interiors shaded during the summer months but allow direct sunlight into the home during the chilly winters. Smart, cost-effective and sensible.
6. Small, efficient bedrooms are perfectly pleasant. Bedrooms don’t need to incorporate lounge areas and recreational space; that’s what lounges and rec-rooms are for. Often with the smaller bedrooms we see in MCM homes, the ergonomics are more deliberate and the view out the window is more appreciated. Smaller bedrooms also cause the family to spend more time together rather than secluding everyone in their own bedrooms all day playing X-Box.
Exactly. I’ve never been a big fan of those giant bedrooms that are really studio apartments in their own right. I’d much prefer a glass wall that would let me wake up to pristing forest views. Hah. Like that’s gonna happen!
Step Inside the First “Ikea House” – Popular Mechanics
To answer your question about an Ikea-inspired prefabricated home: No, you won’t need an Allen wrench.
This is actually an amazingly cool notion – and at $86,500 from start to complete setup, it sure looks great to this denizen of the hyper-expensive SF Bay Area.
A Trip to Idlewild (1961) « MidCentury Architecture
The good old days, before airline travel became a brutal torture.
mid-century modern « * * * * * my mcm life * * * * *
This pretty much sums up what MCM for the average person who could afford it at the time was like.
Once upon a time in mid-century USA, airports were neat places to see and experience. Not at all like today where you are subjected to a dreaded, purgatorian visit to the sterile lockdown. That gets you prepared for boarding the winged Greyhound bus…Oh well, I’m just getting wound up now, so let’s take a look at a trip around Idlewild (now Kennedy) Airport in New York back in 1961. These pics were taken by Dimitri Kessel for an article in LIFE magazine about Idlewild. Enjoy!
Yes, children, once upon a time airports made an effort to be comfortable and welcoming places designed to speed you on your flight.
Instead of the slaughterhouse cattle chutes they are today.
Modern San Diego
If you squint your eyes in the afternoon light of the Silver Lake neighborhood of Los Angeles, you can just make out what looks like an unassuming structure of metal and glass. Look closer and you’ll see Richard Neutra’s VDL Research House, which exemplifies the dream of American Modernism—an architecture with as much promise and optimism as any ever conceived. As the architect’s own home, it was a labor of love and a laboratory for some of his most radical ideas.
This is actually Neutra’s second building on the site. The first was built in 1932 with a grant from an ardent supporter (VDL stands for C.H. Van der Leeuw, a Dutch industrialist so taken with Neutra’s 1929 Lovell House that he immediately wrote a check just to see what the architect would build for himself). After a disastrous fire destroyed the structure in 1963, the Austrian-born architect conceived VDL II in collaboration with his son Dion. What rose from the ashes is a more interesting building than the one that was lost, from the colossal metal louvers on the entrance facade to the hanging gardens of the interior courtyard.
It represents both the beginning and the high point of the humane-organic Modernism spearheaded by Neutra, embraced by Los Angeles and captured so memorably in the photographs of Julius Shulman. Economic use of materials as well as the teasing out of sensuality by water elements and manipulations of light, all within forms of surprisingly modest scale, express perfectly Neutra’s position as the anti–Mies van der Rohe, the architect who would deliver us a future that was friendly and usable. It is one of the most important buildings in America.
Indeed. Mies van der Rohe was considered by many the bete noir of the modernist movement, because his strict, barren interiors struck many as entirely unlivable, showplaces for robots. Eames, Neutra, and others took the opposite approach, and created interiors that were warm, welcoming, and highly livable for ordinary folks.
I like the look of these shelves when used to display appropriate pottery or other MCM tschotkes.
Mid-Century modern tract homes | LPA Blog
Almost anyone that has lived in California has heard of an Eichler home — Mid-Century modern tract homes built by Joseph Eichler between 1950 and 1974. During this period, Eichler Homes built more than 11,000 homes in Northern California, three communities in Southern California, and three homes in Chestnut Ridge New York.
Commonly referred to as “Eichlers,” these homes are the quintessential example of the California lifestyle where the lines between indoor and outdoor are literally a thin sheet of glass. LPA is proud to be a part of this legacy by having owned, renovated and called home to more than a dozen Eichlers over the past 40 years.
It seems like a no-brainer to me that if you own one of these wonderful homes, you would want to furnish it with pieces made to work best with the architectural style. These owners seem to understand that notion quite well.
Julius Shulman at Craig Krull Gallery
ARTIST: Julius Shulman
TITLE: Case Study House #21, Los Angeles, CA
(Pierre Koenig, architect, 1958)
MEDIUM: vintage gelatin silver print
SIZE: h: 8 x w: 10 in
THE MAD MEN OF MID-CENTURY MODERN DESIGN « The Selvedge Yard
The uber-wood look has always been one of my MCM faves – especially when coupled with soaring architecture like this example.
I’m a big fan of local efforts to celebrate, preserve, and expand all things mid century modern, and Lawrence Modern Home is an excellent example of the sort of thing I’m talking about.
Do check it out. Some of the photography, by the way, is spectacular.
Architizer Blog » Blog Archive » If You Like…
So pervasive is the Charles and Ray Eames aesthetic that the interior shot above could be from 1949 — when the designers moved into their home, Case Study #8 — or 1968, or even 2011. It’s so common that the word “Eames” has become shorthand for any piece of Craigslist furniture possessing a vaguely mid-century look.
But let’s take a wider view of the Case Study’s influence and focus on architecture, not plastic chairs.
You’ve heard me speak of “MCM Cozy” style. This shot of Charles and Ray Eames’ living area (mostly orchestrated by Ray, I understand) is a perfect example of what I mean. Every surface is crowded with items of personal significance and taste. The bones may be the spare, linear ligaments of the MCM approach, but they only serve as the framework for the intense personalization that overlays them.
Be sure to read the rest of this post, which is chock full of interesting pictures as well as analysis of just how homes like the Eames’ Case Study House #8 influenced architecture all over the world.