Beautiful Mid-Century Eichler Homes

Born in 1900 in New York City to German Jewish immigrants, Eichler founded the eponymous Eichler Homes, which built more than 11,000 residences concentrated in Northern and Southern California. He worked with leading architects of the day—Anshen & Allen, Oakland & Associates, Jones & Emmons, A. Quincy Jones, and Raphael Soriano—to design the distinctive dwellings that are now simply known as Eichlers and still coveted today.

Developer Joseph Eichler consulted with members of the U.S. Civil Rights Commission, Federal Housing Administration, Housing and Home Finance Agency, and Housing and Urban Development about how to craft and promote anti-discrimination laws. This 1962 home designed by A. Quincy Jones & Frederick Emmons is in the Fairhaven tract in Orange, California. 

Joseph Eichler not only defined the middle-class home of the mid-century period, but also worked to dismantle racist housing policies.

Joseph Eichler’s name is synonymous with the stylish, mid-century homes that his development company brought to the suburbs of California. His role in fighting for fair housing policies and integrated neighborhoods, however, is lesser known. 

This four-bedroom, 1960 home was designed by Anshen & Allen in Orange, California’s Fairmeadows tract. The original brochure advertised “a separate parlor and dining room that gives complete privacy to the adult area of the home” and “a huge pantry that provides abundant storage space for the conveniently planned kitchen.” It also highlighted the enormous atrium and rear patio for indoor/outdoor living. 

Eichler was not unfamiliar with housing discrimination; at the time, there were developers of suburban communities who refused to sell homes to the Jewish middle class. He believed, however, that if a buyer was qualified, there was no good reason not to sell them a home. “I really do think Joe may have been motivated by discrimination against Jews back in New York,” says Dave Weinstein, features editor at CA-Modern Magazine and the Eichler Network—and overall Eichler expert. “It was common not just in housing, but in society in general.” 

Eichler’s son Ned, who worked alongside his father at Eichler Homes, was recorded as saying that the company began selling to Asian Americans as early as 1950 or ’51. The exact date is unclear as the Eichlers never kept statistics on the “racial characteristics of their clients.” However, in the early 1950s, selling to a Black family was a more controversial issue and could be potentially risky for a developer. 

In 1958, Eichler resigned from the National Association of Home Builders when they refused to support a nondiscrimination policy. This 1964 home in the Fairhills tract in Orange, California, was designed by Jones & Emmons with Claude Oakland. 

According to Ocean Howell, associate professor of history at the University of Oregon who wrote the paper The Merchant Crusaders: Eichler Homes and Fair Housing, 1949-1974Eichler’s personal turning point was when he sold a home to Franklin “Frank” Williams. Williams was the lead counsel of the West Coast chapter of the NAACP, a personal acquaintance of Eichler—and also his first Black buyer. “Before that experience, Eichler held egalitarian ideals but was afraid of integrating a tract,” says Howell. “After this moment he began to put those ideals into practice. He began to risk his own position in the pursuit of those ideals.”    

Eichler had been concerned about the effect this would have on his business, including financing from the Federal Housing Administration and Veterans Affairs. Selling a home to Williams invigorated the Eichlers and propelled them into greater activism in many different arenas. In addition to organizing California’s convention on housing issues and helping to write the state’s fair housing law, the Eichlers consulted with the federal Housing and Home Finance Agency and HUD, volunteering to be used as case studies in promotional materials. They also testified before the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights. 

Collectively, all of these activities demonstrate that they were doing whatever they possibly could to fight discrimination in housing, and to demonstrate by example that integration would not bring the private housing market crashing down.

A house in Greenmeadow, an Eichler development in Palo Alto. In 1954, Eichler Homes sold a home in the Greenmeadows tract to a Black family, and a neighbor complained. The company bought the neighbor’s home back and promptly resold it. 

Darren Bradley is an architectural photographer and the man behind the popular Instagram account @modarchitecture. He has researched the developer and photographed numerous Eichler homes over the years and recently posted about the following event: In 1955, when the developer sold a home to a Black family in San Rafael’s Terra Linda development, some of the neighbors protested. Eichler responded angrily to their reaction and “went door-to-door personally to confront them and even offered to buy back their homes.” However, no one took Eichler up on his offer, and after the new family moved in, no one sold their homes. “Initially, it wasn’t really a concerted effort or a conscious thing; he just didn’t believe that there should be any sort of restrictions,” says Bradley. “He just became more militant about it as time went on.”

Eichler Homes’ policy to sell to any qualified buyer was an “open secret” in the industry. This Claude Oakland–designed, 1962 model in Orange advertised that “The parents enjoy complete privacy in the master bedroom suite and direct access to the rear patio.” 

Later, Eichler Homes codified its policy to sell to any qualified homebuyer regardless of race, ethnicity, or religion. By 1964, the company had sold 30 to 40 houses to Black buyers, according to accounts from Eichler’s son Ned. This was an “open secret” in the industry; salespeople didn’t advertise the fact, but they didn’t hide it, either. 

“I think they were happy to be activists in the policy arena, but they wanted to draw a sharp line between those activities and their development business,” says Howell. It was a delicate balance they were trying to strike. They believed passionately in promoting civil rights, but saw that the best way to do that was to speak in different registers for different audiences. They could speak about justice to the Commission on Civil Rights, but in [the] very conservative business environment [of upper-middle-class, single-family housing], the best way to promote an egalitarian outcome was to quietly demonstrate that integrated housing worked just fine as a business.

An updated kitchen in a Silicon Valley home renovated by Klopf Architecture. The wood paneling and beamed tongue-and-groove ceilings are classic Eichler design elements. 
An indoor/outdoor view of an updated Eichler in Silicon Valley that was renovated by Klopf Architecture.

So why is it that for the most part, Eichler’s legacy of integration isn’t better known? Eichler homes are lauded for their indoor/outdoor atrium, expansive glazing, warm wood paneling, tongue-and-groove ceilings—an aesthetic that he popularized and brought to mid-century, suburban, middle-class housing. “Most books on Eichler don’t even really talk about it, which I always thought was shocking,” says Bradley. They always focus on the build and the designs, and they sort of touch on the history, but they don’t talk about what a pioneer he was.

The atrium of a twin gable, 1962 Eichler in Sunnyvale, California, designed by A. Quincy Jones and recently updated by architect Ryan Leidner.

Weinstein points out, however, that accounts of Eichler’s progressive policies don’t slip past many diehard Eichler fans: “Among people who live in Eichlers, Joe’s commitment to non-discrimination and his liberal views are very well known. You’d be surprised how often people told me they bought the homes because of that.” 

Related Reading:

The Merchant Crusaders: Eichler Homes and Fair Housing, 1949–1974 by Ocean Howell

When Joe Eichler Spoke Out About Race by Dave Weinstein

Building An Eichler Bookshelf: Race & Housing by Dave Weinstein

21 Resources on Redlining’s Role in Cementing the American Wealth Gap

Beautiful Prefab Home

If the phrase prefab home doesn’t conjure up images of health and serenity, there’s a reason for that. In Europe, manufactured housing can be a luxury product, but in the US, the concept has taken a long time to shake the stigma of association with low-cost homogeneity. However, the tides may be turning as a new generation of designers explores the possibilities of prefab. This time around, the appeal isn’t just price point—it’s also wellness.

High-end prefab home builder Dvele just got a little more high-tech—and eco-conscious. The San Diego-based company, which is known for its luxury prefab designs, announced this week that it would start exclusively building fully self-powered homes going forward.

Since its founding in 2017, Dvele has branded itself as a sustainable option in the prefab space, but its new initiative takes it a step further with homes that run entirely on solar power and stored energy. Dvele’s models are similar to other eco-minded prefab homes in that a major focus is to limit the amount of wasted energy produced in the first place.

To do that, Dvele developed a new building envelope with a thermal barrier that ensures any heating or cooling produced in the house stays in the house. The company claims its homes utilize 84 percent less energy per square foot to operate than a traditionally built home, which means running totally on solar power is actually achievable. All new Dvele homes will come with solar panels plus a backup battery system to hold any extra energy generated.

Off-grid capability is a way for Dvele to distinguish itself in the increasingly crowded prefab industry—and to get ahead of local regulations. California, no stranger to mass power outages, passed a state building code in 2018 that requires all new homes from 2020 onward to have rooftop solar, the first rule of its kind in the country.

Curbed

Beautiful Childhood Home Preservation

Nina Simone’s Childhood Home Preserved

Singer, pianist, songwriter, and civil rights activist Nina Simone, who died in 2003, made a lasting impact on the U.S., and now four artists are working to make sure her legacy lives on by saving her childhood home in Tryon, North Carolina.
NinaSimone_house_25The home, a three-room, 660-square-foot clapboard pier and beam house, is where Simone—born Eunice Waymon—taught herself to play piano by ear at the age of three. It had been vacant for 20 years, until going on the market in December 2016. That is when artist Adam Pendleton received an email from Laura Hoptman, a curator of contemporary art at The Museum of Modern Art, letting him know that Simone’s childhood home was for sale. When Hoptman mentioned that she had also emailed artist Rashid Johnson, Pendleton had an epiphany. “I had an aha moment and said, ‘Wait a minute, we could purchase this house together. It could be a collective act, a collective gesture.’” With Johnson on board, they recruited artists Ellen Gallagher and Julie Mehretu. “We both agreed that it would be a more meaningful gesture if other artists were involved,” he says. Together the artists purchased the home for $95,000 in March 2017.
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An Activist and Musician from the Very Beginning

Nina Simone’s distinctive voice, sultry blend of classical, blues, and gospel music, and penchant for activism have ensured that the artist’s decades-long legacy still endures today. In her childhood home, she developed a love for her piano and experienced racial discrimination that would shape her world view and social activism later in life. Her mother was a devout Methodist preacher, and her father was entrepreneurial (he had worked as an entertainer early in his own life). Though the Great Depression undoubtedly affected the family’s beginnings, they still provided Simone with opportunities to strengthen her passion—and talent—for music.
NinaSimone_Plaza_03_As a young girl, Simone accompanied her mother’s sermons and the church choir on the piano during services. After hearing Simone, then age 6, accompany the community choir at the Tryon Theater, two women convinced her mother she needed formal piano lessons. One of the women, Mrs. Muriel Mazzanovich, was a local piano teacher. She taught Simone at her house in Tryon for the next four years and organized the Eunice Waymon Fund to raise money for Simone to continue her training after she left for high school.
NinaSimone_interiors_4To thank those who supported the fund, Simone performed her debut recital at the Tryon Library in 1943 at age 11. However, living in a Jim Crow-segregated South, Simone’s parents were forced to give up their seats for white audience members when they arrived at the library. Even then a fierce defender of what she believed to be right, Simone refused to play until her parents were returned to their rightful place in the front row.
NinaSimone_house_5Simone’s piano education continued with the aid of the Eunice Waymon Fund, while she attended an all-girls boarding school in Asheville, North Carolina. Following graduation, she moved to New York City in 1950 to attend a summer program at Julliard with plans to apply for a scholarship at the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia; however, she didn’t receive the scholarship or admittance to Curtis—allegedly due to her race. Simone instead worked odd jobs before returning to music as an accompanist and private teacher. Eventually, she began playing piano and singing at a bar in Atlantic City. There, Simone changed her name, and her career as the High Priestess of Soul took shape.
NinaSimone_interiors_6Much later in her career, Simone returned to Tryon after she had just spent several years living in France and touring Europe. By this point, the artist had built a career, as well as a reputation for expressing her views on civil rights and the racial injustice experienced by African Americans through original songs and covers such as Mississippi Goddam, I Wish I Knew How it Would Feel to be Free, and Four Women.

Simone maintained personal friendships with noted Civil Rights leaders and activists such as Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X. The turbulence of the 1960s, and tragic events such as the 16th Street Baptist Church bombing, motivated her to express her ideas and emotions through explosive live performances and recordings.
NinaSimone_house_7Throughout her career, Simone exhibited musical genius that couldn’t be denied or ignored. She spoke and sang about topics like standards of beauty for black women, oppression, and righteous anger motivated by hundreds of years of slavery and systemic racism. She traveled the world and performed for over four decades, often following momentous historic events like the Selma to Montgomery March and Dr. King’s assassination. She was, in short, a motivating figure for audiences around the world.
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A New Future for Nina Simone’s Past

Years later, when Simone’s childhood home had long been empty, it was in danger of demolition. Prior rehabilitation efforts were unsuccessful, and the house went up for sale again in 2017. The artists didn’t have an interest just in Simone’s art—they felt that buying, preserving, and restoring the home was itself a political act, particularly in the wake of prominent movements such as Black Lives Matter and the perpetuation of the racial divide in the United States.
NinaSimone_house_9Like Simone, each artist finds ways to connect their work to African American identity and history. Pendleton uses language to re-contextualize history through re-appropriated images. Johnson’s work combines “racial and cultural identity, African American history, and mysticism,” according to his biography on Artsy. Gallagher reinterprets advertisements for products targeted towards African Americans. Mehretu creates renderings of urban grids to reexamine cultural definitions of place. The artists plan to apply their collective artistic vision to reinterpret Simone’s home into something that reflects her dynamic, complex legacy, but they cannot do it alone.
NinaSimone_house_11With leadership and guidance from the four artists, the National Trust—along with the Nina Simone Project, World Monuments Fund, and North Carolina African American Heritage Commission—is working to preserve Simone’s Tryon home. The National Trust will develop a rehabilitation plan that aligns with the home’s potential future use; identify future ownership and stewardship models for the site; and create additional protections to ensure that this symbol of Simone’s early life and legacy will endure for generations to come.
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Learn more about Simone’s life and music here

Want to contribute to the preservation of her childhood home? Click here.

Beautiful Travels

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A Horizon Within

Some of us are born with a crack in our souls. Itchy feet. Eyes that are unable to focus on anything other than the far flung. We were folded once, and then left like that for too long; there is a line inside us. I know it is there, because it speaks to another line, outside. They whisper at one another, gaze at one another. They will never rest until they are moving closer. There can be no doubt; the line outside beckons; this simple fold between land and sky. It is the answer to a complex equation, made trickier by topography, trees, the jumble of the city, and the relative density of air. It is a trick of the eye, brought about by the curvature of the Earth, muddled with atmospheric haze. I align the fold inside me to it, just as I point my deckchair to the sea.

I have, at times, tried to ignore its call. But the horizon is demanding. Its desire to draw me ever closer gnaws at my dreams, crawls across those quiet moments where I should find contentment. It pries me open, like an oyster, and the fold becomes the crack that lets the world in. It ties strings to my insides, pulling on each one as it whispers its promises. I will pick you up, it sings, in my tumbling embrace. Rock you like flotsam on my waves. Throw you back on the volcanic sand where I found you, forever changed. It promises an undoing quite unlike any other, its fury matched only – perhaps – by the devastation of love. I stumble, squinting, bent out of shape, unable, quite, to find my way back in through doors that have grown narrower somehow, into rooms more careworn than I remember them. It unscrews the hinges on that word home.

I imagine that there was a time when people were content to live out short lives, circumscribed by the boundary of a muddy field and a scattering of low, smoky cottages, an inn, a tower. But I know that this crack in my soul is older than that. Written in my DNA is a story of migration: from hunger to plenty; from oppression to freedom; from poverty to promise; from thronging alleys to a wild frontier. We follow hummocks and hoof prints in the wake of great beasts that sustain us; the promise of gold in the hills, dreams of fortune and fame. The mud of the road is churned. Oceans become ponds. Borders swept away, languages silenced, old stories drowned out by the tramp of hoping feet. Even when dictators and despots try to tie our bodies to the land, clip the feathers at our heels with stamps and permits, watchtowers, strip searches, our minds, unfettered, up and fly away. The longing is ever present; to open our eyes, to broaden our minds, to mix our genes.

Wanderers. Pilgrims. Varanasi, Bodh Gaya, Jerusalem, St James’s Way. The Grand Tour: the wealthiest of sons, the most insistent of gilded daughters. Comfort in a welter of trunks and bags. A chaperone, a tutor, a guide. A troop of servants in their wake. Now more than ever do I realize that I will never be content with a sedentary life. I will always be haunted by thoughts of a sun drenched elsewhere. The impulse to travel is one of the hopeful symptoms of life.” Anaïs Nin; Cuban, French born, Californian, navigator of the heart: “We travel, some of us forever, to seek other places, other lives, other souls.”

The foot on the path is, however, only half the story. The road has its romance, as do the rocking waves that carry me to unknown shores. The thrill of waking somewhere new; the weight of a pack on my back; every thrill, every turn, every tedious moment of anticipation is matched, almost perfectly, by the joy of home. ‘Home,’ as Laura Ingalls Wilder wrote, ‘is the nicest word there is.’ This worn in, Sunday love for the place I know best – every nook, scuff, and wrinkle of it – is matched by the desire to leave it. There are days when the walls press in, when it is all I can do to stay put. On others, it takes more energy than I can muster to open my front door. These two urges circle one another, pacing. I try to bring the horizon home, weighing down my suitcase with mementos from journeys real and imagined. Photos of columns and doorways. The juicy geometry of desert plants. Thick white and blue glaze on rough terracotta. A dusty weave trapping bright threads and fragments of mirror.

When I am on the road, the opposite desire wins out. I vote with feet and wallet for homely comfort. For moments of familiarity, for putting down my bags and sinking into something that feels not so far away after all. This world responds to my desire, shapes itself in my image. Just as home becomes a facsimile of every foreign shore, so every foreign shore, brick by brick, becomes a vision of home. With a sigh, the tension gives way to irony. The path to the horizon widens, smoother with every footstep, each day, each month, each year that passes. The horizon reacts; twitching, shrinking. Soon someone will set up a lemonade stand, a tea house, a rest stop. I find myself on an air conditioned bus with snacks, free WiFi, a flat screen in the seat back in front of me; 25 channels in 12 languages. I arrive between billboards to a concrete concourse, self check in, then slumber across the face of the planet. I arrive in identikit, climb aboard the same bus and watch the same movie in a language I don’t understand to convince myself I am somewhere new. I sit in my room, surrounded by the comforts of home. I wander streets lined with coffee bars selling even better coffee.

I squeeze my eyes shut. I look inside me. Can I scrub the horizon out? Can I flatten the fold? Smother its calling, stall the yearning, stem the flood? Rewrite my DNA and find satisfaction in a muddy field and a clutch of low houses? No; this genie hasn’t ever seen the inside of a bottle; the crack inside me cannot be sewn closed. I don’t want it closed. I may as well try to dig out my heart altogether.

I sit, breathing hard. In wonder. In the books on my shelves; a life inserted like a pressed flower between each pair of pages. The pictures on my wall; lives captured in light and squeezed under sheets of glass. A name signed with the drag of a stylus through wet clay. Threads dampened with someone’s spit pressed between someone’s forefinger, someone’s thumb. Each spice a childhood memory. Every note sung, plucked, or struck the beat of a heart folded in two with a horizon of its own. The fold in me reaches for the fold in the other. The horizon is the point we meet. As I reach, so I am reached for. As I am the starting point, so I am someone else’s destination. I travel without travelling. I go without going. I feel myself transported towards all these unknowable others. Symmetry without rotation or return. This is the search, I realize. To really move is to be moved. Each journey can only end not somewhere, but with someone.

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R Aslan

 

Beautiful Kitchen Design

With roots in Scandinavian design, Nordiska Kök designs beautiful minimalist kitchens to live in, unique and tailor-made to suit your life, today and tomorrow. Creators of tailor-made kitchens, the company offers unique solutions to suit different lifestyles. Built with longevity in mind, the kitchens are not only designed to last, they also leave the lightest possible footprint on world resources. I am immediately drawn to its warm inviting palette, mix of natural materials and interesting textures. Nordiska Kök crated this beautiful, classic Shaker kitchen with a Scandinavian touch, it fits like a dream inside of the century apartment,  located in the popular Copenhagen district of Frederiksberg.
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The spacious kitchen reflects the quality craftsmanship and clean lines that is synonymous with the Shaker movement. Together with the apartment’s preserved detailing, including the flooring and ceiling stucco, the overall look is truly timeless. Soft grey tones and beautiful Emperador marble counter tops compliment the warm wood flooring, while luxurious handles by The Brandt provide a contemporary edge.
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3Staying true to the minimalist aesthetic of the space, the decision not to cover the entire wall with cupboards is also in keeping with the style of Shaker kitchens. The kitchen demonstrates beautiful attention to detail, as can be seen inside the cabinets and drawers, which feature a warm white pigmented oak.
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The kitchen island not only grounds the space and makes the room dynamic, it adds functionality and plenty of storage. As the heart of the kitchen, it also provides the perfect place for friends and family to gather.
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Styling by Marie Graunbøl / Photography by Andrea Papini
Images Nordiska Kök

Beautiful Infinite Blue Hotel – Sorrento, Italy

Being in a state of quarantine, my planned excursion to Italy had to be put on hold. Actually, as everything has a way of turning out alright, I’m ok with that because it gives me more time peruse wonderful stories about Italy that I previously never seemed to find time for. I’m discovering some of the hidden treasures that I’ll take with me…some this September. And if September shall come and go and still I cannot fly to Europe? Well then, I shall peruse even deeper until the time comes when I can. Below is a story from Cereal magazine for all to peruse and enjoy.

“I STAND ON A BALCONY WITH TILES LAID IN DIAGONAL STRIPES, LOOKING OUT INTO THAT INFINITE BLUE UNTIL I AM SUSPENDED IN IT.”
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White concrete frames a square of uninterrupted blue. The cloudless sky, the iridescent Tyrrhenian sea, even the land stretching out either side — pastel-painted Sorrento to the left, Vesuvius to the right — is cast in a haze of blue. An impressionist’s dream.
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swooning over this blue tile

The concept of infinite blue was architect Gio Ponti’s driving inspiration when he built Parco dei Principi, his slice of 1960s modernism on a coast of faded antiquity. When it opened in 1962, the hotel was something new for ancient Sorrento: a clean-lined, contemporary edifice on the tufa-stone cliff. Inside, the bright, wide-open spaces were pared down and decorated entirely in white and blue.
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Ponti was commissioned to build Parco dei Principi when his friend and colleague, the Neapolitan engineer and hotelier Roberto Fernandes, bought the neighboring property, the ballet-shoe-pink 18th century Villa Cortchacow. The villa was originally owned by the Count of Syracuse and then by a Russian prince, who had a mock Gothic castle half-built in the grounds lest his cousin, the last tsar of Russia, should come to stay. Ponti’s challenge was to transform this — perhaps thankfully — unfinished castle.
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Gio Ponti was one of the most pioneering architects of the mid-century, with an extraordinary portfolio of buildings that championed forward-looking principles. He was driven by the ideas of transparency and lightness. His diamond-shaped Pirelli tower in Milan soars; his ethereal Taranto Cathedral in Puglia, delicate as a paper cut-out, is known as ‘the Sail’. “He loved to create little spaces of lightness, through elements in the design,” says Caterina Licitra Ponti, his great-granddaughter, a passion for her great-grandfather’s work alive in her eyes.
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And so in Sorrento, as in Taranto, he uplifted the castle’s solid stone walls so that the new building seemed to hover above the clifftop, wrapping the interior in a white concrete skin, perforated with spaces that allow the light and the sky to penetrate the framework. On approach, through verdant subtropical gardens, the blue of the sea is visible all the way through the glass-walled ground floor.
gio-ponti-hotel-parco-dei-principiOf all Gio Ponti’s 100-odd buildings, Sorrento is the only hotel where you can still stay, fully immersed in his art — for as well as the building itself he designed every last detail. He was not just an architect, but a designer — of interiors, furniture, industry, cars — an artist and a ceramicist, a writer and a teacher; and at Parco dei Principi his passion for so many disciplines converged in one triumphant paean to modernity.

Work was his passion. Every moment was one in which to create. Her grandmother, Lisa — Ponti’s daughter — recalls him waking each morning at 6.00 am. He used to have coffee in bed while he sketched and wrote letters on a tray of his own design — daily correspondence to friends and colleagues about every devilishly intricate detail of his projects, right down to the tablecloths and tiles.
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In the lobby, blue and white glazed pebbles are set into the walls, their cool, shiny-smooth surfaces reflecting infinite depths of radiance, chosen, Ponti wrote, for their ‘lightness and grace’, their ‘reflexes of light and sky’. Down in the hotel’s subterranean levels, where there is nobody else about, I put my cheek to the cool of them. It is clear Ponti created this place not just to look at but to touch, too, so that his work would engage and bring delight.
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On the bright upper floors, the hotel’s bedrooms are stripped back to the bare essentials, each element designed by Ponti in mid-century modern style and made in Italy: a bed, a chair, a footstool which doubles as a suitcase stand, and a dressing table facing the sea, where I sit and write this story on its smooth Formica top the color of the sky.
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Shaded from direct sunshine by the building’s perforated sheath, the room is cooled naturally by the shades of blue and white, and by the ceramic tiles underfoot. Of all Parco dei Principi’s carefully curated details, these ceramic tiles are perhaps the most enduring. Ponti made 30 different designs, all in the dark blue, pale blue, and white of the local seascape — some geometric, some figurative, featuring moons, stars and leaves. They are configured differently in each of the hotel’s 96 rooms.

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“I always think of the endless possibilities of the art,” Ponti observed, of creating these tiles. “Give someone a square measuring 20 by 20 and although people have been turning them out for centuries, there’s always room for a new pattern… There will never be a last design.” Here again, the concept of infinite blue. His dream was to make a permanent mark — infinite, like the blue of the sea and the sky.VFMLID=1074137304212f566e64500cfc882084ebdd0bb1c
I stand on a balcony with tiles laid in diagonal stripes, looking out into that infinite blue until I am suspended in it. Below me, a sailing boat cuts across the bay, its wake drawing a straight white line through the water. Above me, a gull hangs steadily for a moment, then soars away into the sky. Borne on the wind, light as air. Gio Ponti is everywhere.
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Parco de principiGio Pontioktober 1997

Cereal magazine

Beautiful Italy

With Italy on my mind, I’d like to feature a gorgeous interior because well, we need a little more beauty in our lives. Presenting Vincenzo De Cotiis villa, Pietrasanta – Tuscany, Italy
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I love the idea of Old is New Again. I also believe that when we experience global disasters such as the current pandemic, we learn to appreciate history even more – especially Italy.

When we are forced to look at humanity from a wider perspective, we see the beauty of the human endeavor. The work and effort, the talent and skill, the appreciation of beauty, and the value of cooperation. Saving what is valuable and beautiful to us  becomes even more important than before.
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Milan-based Vincenzo De Cotiis renovated this beautiful villa for himself and his wife and business partner.
3He has overhauled the 5,500-square-foot (510-square-metre) early 18th-century villa in Pietrasanta by the sea in Tuscany, in a grandiose but understated, elegantly distressed minimalist style that is often evident in his palazzo renovations.

4This particular palazzo was built by a local painter, Antonio Digerini, who died in 1889, but it has served many purposes over the centuries including being a cloister and a hotel.

I love the exposed patina of the walls and ceiling beams, the minimalist emptiness of the rooms and the lack of unnecessary objects. The color palette is also beautifully muted with soft hints of cold greens and warmer brick-tones.

5In several spaces, the texture and tone of the patina of the original walls and ceilings is replicated in dyed, gessoed and sanded Belgian linen used for parts of the walls and ceilings. Most of the marble is local as the area is famous for its marble quarries.

6Many of the furnishings and art are of De Cotiis’s own creation and design and although their vibe is futuristic and even slightly brutalist, they fit seamlessly with the villa’s cold-cool ambiance. The balance exudes a sense of calm but in an eerily powerful way. It isn’t cozy or comfortable overall, yet it is inviting and interesting for those of us who love his style.

7De Cotiis doesn’t promise to create an environment in a style any client might want. But you can’t help but respect his boldness.

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Learn more here

Beautiful Apartment Renovation in Milan

All’Arco by Tommaso Giunchi + Atelierzero
All’Arco is a minimal 19th-century apartment located in Milan, Italy, designed by Atelierzero + Tommaso Giunchi. The main goal was the creation of an apartment in which a contemporary approach could fit within the unique soul of the original space. The internal distribution has undergone some changes to meet the needs of the new tenants, a couple with two children, who often love to host friends and family at home. The dining room and the living room, initially divided by an internal wall, have been united, creating a single vast space, defined by calm green light color.
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The prominent feature of the apartment is its long hallway, a large distribution space that connects the living and sleeping areas, creating fascinating perspectives throughout the space. Here, the original and diverse floors have been removed and replaced with a continuous surface of contemporary cement tiles, which, referring to the traditional Milanese ones, give a touch of contemporaneity thanks to their geometric design. The main bathroom has undergone the most important renovation, combining travertine details with Moroccan design tiles, which juxtapose the flooring of the corridor.
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The existing most defining design elements, such as wooden doors and their decorative details, classic stucco ceilings, and elegant wooden floors, have been maintained, offering a counterpart to the contemporary materials, finishes, and colors of the project. Besides allowing a sense of continuity to the renovation process, this also provides contrast with the juxtaposed new elements.
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Love this door!

Photography by Simone Furiosi

Beautiful Palace

The Fenix Palace is a minimalist space located in Stockholm, Sweden, designed by Staffan Holm for Ariake. Mixing contemporary Japanese handcraft, handpicked artisans and producers and a Swedish interior dating back to 1912, The Fenix Palace is a celebration of good collaborations in an unusual setting.

The building where the exhibition was held is the work of architect Hjalmar Westerlund and originally housed a number of well-known restaurants, a dance hall, a theatre and a bowling alley. Since 1940 it has been owned by the City church, and its premises are rarely open to the public.
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Beautiful Axiom Desert House

Based on the Axiom 2110 and featuring the Turkel Design signature post-and-beam construction and an open great room breezing out to a private courtyard, the 2,080-square-foot Axiom Desert House draws from the lifestyle and culture of Palm Springs—seamlessly blending indoor and outdoor living while incorporating innovative and energy-efficient products and systems throughout.
axiom desert house 1Recently completed in February 2019, Axiom Desert House, Featured Home at this year’s Palm Springs Modernism Week—turns heads as a stunning, systems-built jewel that is now the private residence of designers Joel and Meelena Turkel, as well as a Living Lab for Turkel Design. The home’s open plan, indoor/outdoor flow, and thoughtful use of sustainable materials are a testament to modern prefab, celebrating transformative design that is simple, elegant, and replicable.
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axiom desert house 3axiom desert house 4Many cultures feature houses with rooms grouped around a private courtyard: this is a take on that venerable tradition. Passing through a flat-roofed entry, the space expands as you encounter a high, beamed ceiling, sloping upward to 12 feet. This is the great room – 40 feet in length, it opens directly onto the walled courtyard through glass panels that slide away into hidden pockets. An especially admired feature of the room is a 4-by-12-foot window-seat extending into and overlooking the courtyard. This too has operable glass panels that tuck away into pockets: a charming place to lie down—even sleep—“half-in, half-out.”

axiom desert house 5axiom desert house 6axiom desert house 7axiom desert house 8Master suites occupy both ends of this “L” shaped home, each with private access to the courtyard; an ideal arrangement for a shared vacation home, in town or out. While being careful to ensure privacy, the outward facing walls stop short of the overhanging roof, bringing in balancing light and capturing expansive outward views.
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A custom daybed in the living room becomes part of the outdoor furnishings when the Marvin lift and slide doors are open. (Click to view video)

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The children’s room features fold-away bunk beds and an Oslo Sofa wall bed system (not shown) by Resource Furniture

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Beautiful Apartment

This beautiful Stockholm apartment, recently featured in Residence magazine, has stunning interiors. The owner, Emma Blomquist, has renovated the turn of the century apartment to enhance the original architecture, in keeping with her love of quiet colors in earthy tones.

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In the kitchen, the Three-Arm Ceiling Lamp by Serge Mouille hangs above a kitchen island in Carrara marble.

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Photography by Elisabeth Daly 

A dream apartment, wouldn’t you agree?

Images via wrede.se