Beautiful Stahl House

STAHL HOUSE, COMPLETED IN 13 MONTHS AND COSTING $37,500, FURTHER DEMONSTRATED PIERRE KOENIG’S FLAIR FOR WORKING WITH INDUSTRIAL MATERIALS, PARTICULARLY STEEL, GLASS, AND CONCRETE

Stahl-Landscape1-The image is instantly familiar; the house, all dramatic angles, concrete, steel and glass, perched indelibly above Los Angeles, with Hollywood’s lights resembling a circuit board below it. Inside, two women sit, stylish and relaxed, talking casually behind the monumental floor to ceiling glass walls. One of the world’s most iconic photographs, Julius Schulman’s Case Study 22 beautifully captures the optimism of 1950s Los Angeles, and the striking beauty of architect Pierre Koenig’s masterpiece, Stahl House. The classic L shaped pavilion, cantilevered above Hollywood on Woods Drive, was built in 1959 after being adopted into the Case Study Program, an experimental residential design initiative that commissioned architects to create model homes in the wake of the 1950s housing boom. Stahl House, also known as No. 22, was the wild one, conjured up by the man who purchased the plot of land at 1635 Woods Drive in 1954 for $13,500 and sealed the deal with a handshake. C H ‘Buck’ Stahl was a dreamer, who, along with his wife Carlotta, set about finding the right person to bring his vision for an innovative and thoroughly modern home to life.

Stahl-portrait1-chairstahl_portrait2-pool.jpgBuck was a former professional footballer who worked as a graphic designer and sign painter. He spent his first few years as a landowner hauling broken blocks of concrete to the site in attempt to improve its precarious foundation. He and Carlotta ferried their finds, load by load, back to Woods Drive in the back of Buck’s Cadillac, hopeful the reinforcements would prevent the land from sliding. Buck’s dreams for the house began to take shape over the following two years, and eventually, he made a model of the future Stahl House. His grand designs, however, were promptly rejected by several notable architects.

Stahl-Landscape2-view.jpgCarlotta recalled Buck continually telling prospective architects “I don’t care how you do it, there’s not going to be any walls in this wing.” Until they hired Pierre Koenig in 1957, an ambitious young architect determined to build on a site nobody would touch, it seemed unlikely the house would ever exist. Pierre described the process of building Stahl House as “trying to solve a problem – the client had champagne tastes and a beer budget.” He was interested in working with steel, and despite being warned away from it by his architecture instructors, possessed great aptitude for it. He’d experimented with a number of exposed glass and steel homes before he created Case Study 21, or The Bailey House in 1958 and 1959, and his skill for designing functional spaces with simplicity of form, abundant natural light, and elegant lines would eventually make him a master of modernism. Stahl House, completed in 13 months and costing 37,500 USD, further demonstrated Pierre’s flair for working with industrial materials, particularly steel, glass, and concrete. The project put him on the map as an architect with an incredible eye for balance, symmetry, and restraint. The 2,040 m² house was, as Buck insisted, built without walls in the main wing to allow for sweeping 270º views. Three sides of the building were made of plate glass, unheard of in the late 1950s, and deemed dangerous by engineers and architects. This design feature required Pierre to source the largest pieces of glass available for residential use at the time. With two bedrooms, two bathrooms, polished concrete floors, and a very famous swimming pool (a fixture in countless films and fashion editorials) Stahl House was an immediate mid century icon.

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Although there has been some dispute over Buck’s influence on the design in the years since he died in 2005 and Pierre Koenig’s death in 2004, some experts who have seen Buck’s original model agree that his concept informed the direction the Stahl House would finally take.

“I dismissed it as typical owner hubris at the time,” architect and writer Joseph Giovannini told the Los Angeles Times in 2009. “The gesture of the house cantilevering over the side of the hill into the distant view is clearly here in this model. But it is Pierre’s skill that elevated the idea into a masterpiece. This is one of the rare cases it seems that there is a shared authorship.”

Today, Stahl House is still owned by the Stahl family. Though it remains a magnet for film crews and photographers the world over, for Bruce Stahl, Buck and Carlotta’s son, who grew up there with his siblings, it was simply part of a typical, happy childhood. “We were a blue collar family living in a white collar house,” he said. “Nobody famous ever lived here.”

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Credits: Lucy Brook
Photos: Rick Poon

Beautiful Villa Savoye

AS A MONUMENT TO MODERNISM, THE BUILDING POSSESSES A POETRY AND SENSITIVITY FULL OF IDEALISM. THE CAREFUL COMPOSITION OF LIVING SPACE AND INTENTION TO HARNESS NATURAL LIGHT, NOT TO MENTION THE BUILDING’S ICONIC AESTHETIC, STILL DEFINE MODERN ARCHITECTURE.

villasavoye_landscapeThe Villa Savoye, built in 1929 in Poissy, a rural area outside Paris, was Le Corbusier’s answer to a French country house. Given relatively few constraints by the Savoye family, Le Corbusier designed a building to embody the architectural theory he had evolved in practice and in his book, Towards an Architecture 1923. He was inspired by both the classical forms of ancient Greek architecture and the modern technologies that were shaping the world such as automobiles, airplanes and ocean liners.

villasavoye_landscape2.jpgThis project was the last in a series of private homes known as the ‘white villas’ built by Le Corbusier and his cousin and partner Pierre Jeanneret, which introduced a new form of luxury in which space itself, and its capacity for leisure, were the valuable commodities.

Of these, The Villa Savoye perhaps best embodies Le Corbusier’s architectural manifesto, the five points of architecture. The first, pilotis – slender pillars which raise the building off the ground, opening up more space for gardens and cars, made possible the second, a façade free of its usual load bearing function. Walls were no longer supporting structures but ‘membranes.’ This allowed the unimpaired design of the third, an open plan interior, and the fourth, ribbon windows to flood the interior with maximum light and to illuminate it evenly. A sliding window system patented by Le Corbusier and Pierre Jeanneret was intended to offer superior ventilation, as well as give access to the fifth, a flat roof which could serve as a terrace. A curved solarium crowns the structure, the brightest increment in the layered design. This symbiotic relationship of these five features gives some insight into what could otherwise be a somewhat alienating notion of Le Corbusier’s, the famous concept of a house as ‘a machine for living.’

villasavoye_landscape3-outdoor.jpgUnfortunately the Villa Savoye presented its residents with its own host of problems, despite its pioneering design. Each autumn, as the windows ushered in a warm vista of seasonal colour, the family would write repeatedly to Le Courbusier, begging him to make ‘habitable,’ what proved to be a damp and chilly building. They complained of ‘raining’ in the hall, on the ramp and in the bathroom. The loud drumming of rain on the bathroom skylight kept them awake at night, heat escaped through the long stretches of glazing and the heating system was both insufficient and a further cause of flooding.

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Much of this was perhaps due to the fact that the technology involved was not fully developed at the time. As a monument to Modernism, the building possesses a poetry and sensitivity full of idealism. The careful composition of living space and intention to harness natural light, not to mention the building’s iconic aesthetic, still define modern architecture. Nonetheless, the discomforts they had suffered ultimately led the Savoye family to decide against restoring the property after the 2nd World War, when it was seized by German forces. About to be demolished by the local authorities to make way for a school, the building was rescued by architects and academics including Le Corbusier himself. Now a museum, restored closely to its original state, Villa Savoye is one of 17 of Le Corbusier’s buildings declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Credit: readcereal.com/

Beautiful Kitchen Design

I am loving this little kitchen with dark grey and black cabinets. Love the sleek new black stainless steel, fingerprint-resistant appliances with a rich, matter look.

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The great thing about black and dark grey is how dramatic it is, and how it helps make everything else around it pop. And adding black appliances to the mix gives things a seriously seamless look!

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Check out Whirlpool’s newest line of black appliances here

 

Beautiful Pop-Up Shop Interiors

Reoccurring conceptual pop-up shops have become the latest and most innovative way to access up and coming ideas in design and fashion. By opening up home spaces to photoshoots, conceptual stores and events, a new trend in home design is emerging.

The Loft is a periodically recurring conceptual pop-up store. It beautifully expresses the eclectic nature of their values with our choice of products. I’m particularly fond of the natural materials like wood, steel, leather, glass, wool and ceramics. These materials tell a lot about the love and attention invested in a product. It shows its age and origin, its history, the way it was crafted. Learn more about the Loft studio here and swoon.

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I love the whimsical nature of the space and objects.

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Beautiful Historic Homes

I love architecture and when I’m out-and-about I sometimes find myself stalking the neighborhood to check the latest and greatest home designs. With the building frenzy going on in Seattle and so many structures being torn down and replaced at such a rapid pace, I’m developing a new appreciation for the beauty of old homes and buildings. I’m personally a fan of modern design with the less is more approach but my heart holds a special place for authentic craftsman style homes in Seattle, the colorful Victorian homes in SF and Row Houses in DC. It amazes me how much residential architecture can define a city. Put them in a different location and they almost look silly. Hopefully more will be preserved so that a cities don’t lose their historic identity. Enjoy these images, one day they may become just that, an image.

San Francisco Victorians

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Row Houses of Washington, DC
Many of these are about 200 years older than the SF Victorians and 300 years older than the Seattle Craftsman Bungalows! Built long before western states even existed. Amazing they have survived.

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Seattle Craftsman Bungalows
With the Seattle building boom, sadly many of these are disappearing and being torn down only to be replaced with what I consider poorly designed modern homes and condos. I am a huge fan of well designed modern homes however the surrounding neighborhood and homes always need to be taken into consideration.

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