Edited by Stanley Abercrombie -- Interior Design, 8/1/2009 12:00:00 AM
The Modernist House
by the editors of Phaidon Press
New York: Phaidon Press, $25
112 pages, 100 illustrations (70 color)
Here is an interesting, useful, and well priced compendium of 100 modernist houses, each represented by a single large image and brief text. Shown chronologically, they range from Frank Lloyd Wright's Robie house in Chicago and Adolf Loos's Steiner house in Vienna, both from 1910, to a 2007 house by Alvaro Siza Arquitecto in Pego, Portugal. In between, the choices include many expected icons: Pierre Chareau's Maison de Verre in Paris and Le Corbusier's Villa Savoye in Poissy, France (1931), Alvar Aalto's Villa Mairea in Noormarkku, Finland (1939), Ludwig Mies van der Rohe's Farnsworth house in Plano, Illinois (1950), and a house in Harbor Springs, Michigan, by Richard Meier & Associates, Architects (1973). The book's great contribution, however, is the inclusion of unfamiliar surprises such as Ernest Cormier's art deco Montreal house for himself (1931), Juan O'Gorman's cubist Mexico City house for Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo (1932), José Antonio Coderch's undulating house near Barcelona, Spain (1951), Jean Prouvé's prototype prefabricated house (1955), Marco Zanuso's sharply angled house in Musso, Italy (1973), and Eduardo Souto de Moura's Casa Moledo, fashioned of rugged stone in Caminha, Portugal (1998).
Making this a highly serviceable volume as well as a handsome one are a glossary of architectural terms, a list of addresses and visiting hours for the 21 properties open to the public, and an unusually thorough index. The latter lists the houses and their architects, of course, but goes on to include such broad search terms as art nouveau, functionalism, Australian building forms, and even Danish lifestyle.
Eileen Gray: Her Life and Work
Munich: Schirmer/Mosel, distributed by Prestel Publishing, $99
360 pages, 429 illustrations (164 color)
The career of architect, furniture designer, and lacquer artist Eileen Gray—once obscure, now lionized—has been well documented in books and museum exhibitions. Even this title's author, Peter Adam, a close friend of Gray in her last 16 years, has tackled the subject twice before. The present monograph offers a wealth of photographs that had never been published, and it is images, after all, that tell us what we most want to know about a highly inventive designer.
We see her best-known 1920's furniture, all later reproduced by Andrée Putman's Ecart International: the Transat chair, the Satellite mirror, and the E. 1027 adjustable-height glass-topped occasional table, named for Gray's house in Roquebrune, France. Other chapters cover the rest of E. 1027, to which Le Corbusier contributed murals, and another French residence, Tempe à Pailla in Castellar. Also shown are her interiors and architecture for and with Romanian architect Jean Badovici and her abstractly geometric rugs. Besides these strictly modernist designs, we're given a taste of her early and late work in lacquer, pieces that can be expressionist and even savage. Examples are the Siren armchair, with its lacquered arms and legs and its back carved in the shape of a siren and a sea horse; the Lotus table in lacquer and ivory, hung with amber-ringed tassels; the Serpent armchair with lacquered armrests in the form of snakes; and some lamps that combine lacquer, parchment, copper, perforated cork, and an ostrich eggshell.
What They're Reading...
Mark Oldham, Associate at William Rawn Associates and founding partner of LinOldhamOffice
Euan Uglow: The Complete Paintings
New Haven: Yale University Press, $125
352 pages, 430 illustrations (310 color)
A cliché is a cliché, but one mustn't forget the truth behind the phrase. Such was the case when architect Mark Oldham allowed himself—after much hesitation—to make the comment "God is in the details." He was discussing the work of British postwar painter Euan Uglow, known for his exactingly rendered nudes and still lifes. Uglow used spatial recognition and relations to create compositions directly from life. "If I were painter, it's what I would do," Oldham says. "It's analogous to the architect's process." Uglow's habit of taking eight to 10 years to finish a canvas also resonates with Oldham. "The more time spent on a design, the better it ultimately becomes," he says. "The whole picture matters, from the grand idea right down to the smallest detail. Uglow's work speaks to that." Of course, as an architect, Oldham has to meet deadlines. In the coming months, he'll be working on performance venues in Baltimore and Rohnert Park, California, and an annual art and architecture event, DesCours, in New Orleans. –Deborah Wilk