Showing posts with label architecture. Show all posts
Showing posts with label architecture. Show all posts

Thursday, February 16, 2017


Like most people I'm a huge fan of Frank Lloyd Wright, but he's not above making mistakes.  Nobody is.  I thought it might be fun to review some of his faux pas.

Let's face it. A lot of his chairs don't look very comfortable.

Some of the worse offenders are his plywood chairs, like the one above. This chair is missing its cushions, but even so....

For a time Wright fell in love with plywood and used it to make visible walls even in his upscale houses, something few modern architects would do.

A more serious problem is his lack of interest in bedrooms and kitchens.

Here's (above) a Wright bedroom. It's a living room with a bed in it.  Taken alone it looks great but imagine a whole house where every room is a living's just too much of a good thing. I see homes as a confederacy of different moods and purposes, the way nature itself is.

Here's another bedroom. It feels like a family room or a study that's doing double duty.

Here's a kitchen that also looks like a study. You get the feeling that the man never spent much time in kitchens.

Lots of people think of landscaping as an art form but the subject seemed to bore Wright.  All he seemed to want around his houses (above) was a nicely mowed lawn. 

His low-budget Usonian houses seemed all the more stark and unappealing on the plain lawns. 

Does anything I mentioned diminish the architect's stature in my eyes? Nope. Not a jot.  He's still the greatest builder of homes that I'm aware of.  I only mean to point out that nobody's ever perfect, not even the greatest geniuses.

Monday, February 13, 2017


Architecture is on my mind these days, and I thought I'd talk about another favorite film house...this one from the 1945 thriller, "Leave Her to Heaven."  The stars: Gene Tierney and Cornel Wilde.  The director: John M. Stahl.  The location: Arizona.  Gee, I wish I knew the art director's name because this post is really about his work. 

This (above) is the best view of the exterior I could find, but it doesn't quite match the log cabin look of the picture at the top. I think the film presented these as different views of the same house, though. Anyway, this view kinda' makes you want to take a dip, doesn't it?

And here's an indoor shot highlighting one of the best staircases in all of film. It's only my opinion... is the Czar's staircase in Von Sternberg's "Catherine the Great."

This interior was built on a set in L.A. If I understand right
it was inspired by a real house in Arizona, but lots of alterations were made by the set designer.  Not bad, eh?

Above, a slightly different angle.

This house (above) is cozy as well as modern. That's a trademark of architect Cliff May. You don't suppose he had a hand in this film, do you?

The dining area (above) is raised two or three steps above the living room. Nice.

Of course, it helps to have Gene Tierney serving up the meal.

Above, the area in front of the dining table.

Here's (above) the set of another house in the film.

How do you like the Dutch door and the large windows that go all the way down to the floor?

BTW: Most of these pictures were found on a site called "Hooked on Houses."

Friday, February 03, 2017


I just saw the 2006 Gwyneth Paltrow movie, "Proof." It was director Director John Madden's next film after "Shakespeare in Love," a film I watched at least a half dozen times. I'm tempted to talk about the story here but I'm an artist and I'll try to stay focused on the wonderful house that was used in the film. That's it above.

In the story a bereaved Paltrow was the daughter of a famous mathematician, recently deceased.  This was the house her character grew up in.

Isn't that porch wonderful?  It could use some paint, though. Maybe "stressed" wood was still in fashion in 2006. 

Throughout the film horizontals and verticals are stressed. The art director thought that was appropriate for a film about math people.

'Nice neighborhood. Lots of trees and shrubs.

A large living room with hardwood floors makes for a perfect party.

I love the upstairs halls that you find in houses like that.

Geez, the dad's workroom was even messier than my own. I like it, though. Are those subway tiles behind the desk?

I especially like windows of that type, and notice the fibrous wall covering.  It allows the entire room to function as one big bulletin board.

Window sills are covered with shells and concentric cactus's the math theme again.

Even the pattern on the bedspreads is subtly math themed with repeating patterns. I'll discipline myself to ignore the quasi-nude scene that this scene builds to.

The kitchen continues the math idea with linear fluted trim on the windows and doors. It's a great look. 

Ditto the breakfast area with linear patterns on the cushions and vertical paneling on the walls. That's the sun room on the other side.

I love sun rooms! The architecture, the light and temperature...everything is different out there. Rooms like this are like little Robinson Caruso shacks grafted onto manor houses. It's a terrific idea! 

I'll end this with Paltrow lit simultaneously with dim blue and straw-colored lights. That's an easily achievable effect even in ordinary homes!

Tuesday, January 10, 2017


If I have a basement rec room in my new home then I'd like to have a wide, square coffee table like the one above.  I like to work while I watch TV and I like to spread out when I'm working, so a table like this facing a wall mounted TV would be perfect.  I picture a sofa where the wooden bench is now.

In back of the sofa (above, lower left) I'd have a long, shallow table or desk that would enable me to peek over the sofa and work or eat a meal while watching TV. The picture from a book that illustrates this only shows a corner of the table so I'm so I hope the idea gets across okay.

In the part of the country I'll be moving to it's common to leave basements unfinished, so the ceilings of rec rooms are often made of exposed wood. If that's the case then I'll sand and varnish the ceiling and add natural wood pillars like the ones shown in this Reggio Emilia school room above.

Monday, October 17, 2016


Above, you'll find a room full of Memphis furniture (above) from the 1980s. That was the trendy furniture style of its day, the thing we 80s people all longed to have. Gee, 30 years later some of the pieces look like shag cat toys, and a whole room full of it seems like clutter. Even so, I retain an affection for it. Maybe it's worth examining to see where the movement went wrong.

First, lets talk about what they did right. How do you like these Cliff Sterrett / Picasso-style vaces (above)?  Probably flowers didn't look good in them, but who cares? They look great!

And the iconic bookshelf (above) by Milan designer/Memphis co-founder Ettore Sottsass (yes, that was his real name) was marvelous.  Everybody in the 80s wanted one.

The problem was that, although it looked good as a stand-alone, it didn't integrate into a whole furnished room very well. The fact is that nobody had an idea of what a Memphis-style room should look like.

That's a photo of Sottsass above. Yikes! He doesn't look very happy.

I suspect that the man had enormous problems with production and quality control.  I'm guessing that people who did knock-offs of his ideas made a lot more money than he did.

Some of his studio's designs were misfires (above)...

...and some (above) looked downright uncomfortable. That's okay...nobody bats a thousand. If he'd had more time to iron out the kinks I think Sottsass would would have dominated furniture design well into the late 90s, but time was running out.

Memphis was grounded in 80s rock culture but rock was quickly giving way to hip-hop and that movement had no use for Memphis influences like Matisse and Picasso, Miro and Leger, Klee, Stella, Gris and Mondrian.

Boy, poor Sottsass!


BTW: A couple of the pictures I posted may not have been of Memphis products per se, but I included them because they were close enough to be relevant.

Monday, July 11, 2016


No, these women (above) are not naked...they're simply wearing flesh colored leggings, which are all the rage now. 

Pants like these used to surprise me but now I'm used to them.  They're really nothing new. We white people have always liked things that are flesh colored.

Half the exteriors in my neighborhood (above) look fleshy. 

Half the rooms, too.

If you're caucasion like me, you just naturally seek out places to live that look like yourself. Maybe it's the camouflage aspect that appeals to us.

A white man stands against a fleshy wall and...Wow!...he's invisible! Maybe eons ago that's how we foiled the sabertooth tigers. No, wait a minute...they didn't have house paint then. Well then, maybe we just liked the color...I don't know.

Anyway, bathrooms (above) are almost always flesh-colored. A neighbor I talked to bucked the trend and foolishly colored his bathroom sea foam green.  He gave it a nautical look, which seemed to make sense because, after all, it's a room you're always splashing around in. Well...a year later he had to repaint it.

He said the blue walls drove his wife nuts, as if somehow they'd violated a universal law...and in a way, they did.

He repainted the walls flesh and it had an enormous calming effect on his wife. Camouflage? I don't know.