Tag Archives: Modernist

a modernist in berlin.

Part of the 1957 building exhibition in Berlin’s Tiergarten park, this Modernist glass atrium house was designed by Eduard Ludwig, an architect who studied briefly at the Bauhaus, and whose passion lay in the design of bungalow-style houses. He studied under Mies van der Rohe and the influence of modernist masterpiece the Barcelona Pavillion is evident here.

The simple lineality of the building is echoed internally with the floating linear kitchen cabinets, built-in, low-level storage lining the living area, and bathroom vanity in palest stone suspended against a full wall of mirror. Textured surfaces abound and are enhanced with splashes of intense colour in the palette of dark orange, black and off-white. Simple, classic furniture pieces like the shaker style chair (Hay do a simlar one, here) and brass domed kitchen pendant hold their own and yet perfectly compliment the space.

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Beautifully restored by architectural firm bfs design: Atrium House by Eduard Ludwig via Daily Icon.

Photos: Annette Kisling

a monolithic modernist.

Monolithic and undeniably modern, the building stands as two low linear brickwork blocks supporting an upper volume of concrete. Between, water and landscaping provide a refuge and, with the rather wonderful giant Texan plume grass, give the house an ethereal quality.

São Paulo based architect Guilherme Torres’ own house features a chequered wood screen or brise soleil called muxarabie, a classic feature in Eastern architecture, assimilated by the Portuguese and later brought to Brazil. Acting as a wooden curtain to allow air flow, it also filters the light, offers privacy to the inhabitants and adds security.

The external elements (screen, brickwork) can also be read internally. Other materials are kept simple – wood and stone floors, white walls and dark metal framed windows. The loose furniture is a combination of the architect’s own design, pieces by known Brazilian designers (Sérgio Rodrigues and Carlos Motta), and international pieces – Tom Dixon lighting, for example. Brazilian in style and quite jovial, the decorations are either neutral or fabulous shades of blue…

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BT House by Studio Guilherme Torres via Arch Daily, here 

Images: Denilson Machado

More wonderful spaces, here

off to the beach.

elephant slide on owl's house london.

After a brief foray into Surrey (in the shadows of Box Hill, known notably for its role in Jane Austen’s Emma, as well as the Olympic cycling last year), we are off to the beach.

I wrote about the Modernist architect John Winter in an earlier post (here); the Beach House was designed by him for his own use, and it’s available to rent. This is where we shall be ensconced, a stone’s throw from the east Norfolk coast. It’s not the charming curvaceous beaches of Sicily’s east coast, or the expansive endless horizon of sand of Australia’s coast, but it has sand crabs at low tide, and starfish at high; and the only accoutrement required is a bucket and spade. Just perfect for a three-year-old. Happy summer!

Elephant Slide (Girona 1975) via

fab four: planters.

It is a super busy week here in London, with Clerkenwell Design Week, May Design Series at Excel and Chelsea Flower Show all vying for one’s attention..

This is my homage to Chelsea Flower Show, celebrating its centenary this year, fab four: planters.

fab four on owls house.

  1. Bauhaus-inspired, laquered steel Kubus Bowl from Story North
  2. Clever little upside-down Sky Planter, here 
  3. Case study ceramic bowl from Modernica
  4. Beautiful Japanese terrarium by 10¹² TERRA

Do you have a favourite?

More on Chelsea Flower Show celebrating 100 years in AnOther Magazine, here 

More fab four, here 

a perfect case study.

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The case study houses of the 1940s, ’50s and ’60s have long been my idea of the perfect contemporary home – open plan, maximum glazing, simple, functional. Perhaps the climate helps (these homes were most often built in California), but they seem to embody a free and easy lifestyle and optimism. Post war construction methods and new materials made the houses possible, and yet…

The Case Study house program stated that: each ‘house must be capable of duplication and in no sense be a individual performance.. It is important that the best material available be used in the best possible way in order to arrive at a ‘good’ solution of each problem, which in the overall program will be general enough to be of practical assistance to the average AmerIcan in search of a home in which he can afford to live…’ I just adore this philosophy.

Nine architects were involved in the initial scheme, including Richard Neutra and Charles Eames. I have often wondered how they could get these simple, easy-to-build forms so right; contemporary architecture today very often loses sight of its modernist roots.

Now a new partnership between the son of Richard Neutra, and the California Architecture Conservancy, means one can license the right to build from the plans of Richard Neutra. More about the scheme, here. Neutra (1892-1970), one of the most important of the mid-century modernist architects, became famous for the simple geometries of his designs, which were often made of steel and glass, and the prefabricated elements that made them extremely easy to build. Known for rigorously geometric yet open and airy structures, Neutra blended the interior and exterior of a space such that it would ‘place man in relationship with nature; that’s where he developed and where he feels most at home’. This philosophy grew from a feeling that “our environment is often chaotic, irritating, inhibitive and disorienting. It is not generally designed at all, but amounts to a cacophonous, visually discordant accretion of accidental events, sometimes euphemized as ‘urban development’ and ‘economic progress’’’.*

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neupes04dailyiconTroxell08dailyiconTroxell01dailyicon1 / 2 / 3 / 4 / 5 / 6 / 7 / 8  (not all were the case study models, but too good not to show).

A very funny account of what it must be like to live in a mid-century modern home with children, here

More wonderful spaces, here. And my take on the fabulous mid-century modern show at Lord’s in London this past weekend on next Thursday’s post…

* Quotation from Neutra’s biography, Life and Shape, available from this dreadful-looking Neutra web-site..

an exemplary modernist.

‘For a long time I have dreamed of executing dwellings in such conditions for the good of humanity. The building at Highgate is an achievement of the first rank’. Le Corbusier, 1935.

Berthold Lubetkin, one of several émigré proponents of Modernism in 1930s London, and a disciple of Le Corbusier, designed the apartment building Highpoint, in Highgate, North London. An early example of the International style, and engineered by Ove Arup, I had the opportunity to visit Highpoint last weekend, on an open day for the sale of one of the apartments. Recently refurbished, the attention to the original detail was superb. (That apartment was sold immediately, and sadly, not to me, so the photographs I am showing here are for another in the building).

Original features and fittings – cork floors, door furniture, bathroom fittings – have mostly been replaced. Other fittings are consistent for the era – the Arne Jacobsen wall lights for example. The colours were inspired by Le Corbusier’s ‘polychromie architecturale’ – two palates of colour he produced for the wallpaper company Salubra in 1931 and 1959.

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Highpoint is a much lauded, grade 1 listed Modernist building. Rendered white, as was the modernist way, the building is monolithic but elegant. Berthold Lubetkin is among the most important figures of the Modern Movement in Britain. Born in Georgia in 1901, he studied in Berlin and Paris, before moving to London in 1931. The following year he founded the famous Tecton practice with 6 other Architectural Association graduates.

Lubetkin and Tecton’s buildings are among the most iconic of the period, and include the marvellous penguin pool at London Zoo, again, designed in conjunction with the engineer Ove Arup.

Highpoint, Highgate via The Modern House

More wonderful spaces, here

corten house.

I first came upon the architecture of John Winter (1930-2012) three years ago, experiencing it first hand in a beach house he owned on the north east Norfolk coast (you can stay there too; details, here). Inspired by Charles Eames’ west coast cabin (he worked with Eames when he moved to San Francisco early in his career), he designed and built the house out of renewable timber, steel and aluminium. It is the simplest of plans being rectilinear in form, with windows running along both of the long sides, and my favorite of all interior spaces – a sunken lounge.

The subject of this post however, is not that house but this one, in Highgate, North London. Built in 1967 by John Winter for his own use, this is a wonderful, proper modernist house, given a rare Grade II* listing by English Heritage: ‘This is a highly influential and unusual house in its structure, materials, plan and aesthetic. It is still a model for minimal housing, as influential today as it was when it was built’.

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Constructed around a steel frame, the house has huge double-glazed picture windows that flood the interior with light. It is clad in Corten, a steel alloy that weathers naturally to a beautiful dark rust colour. This was the first domestic use of the material in Britain, and the proportions of the house and grid were designed around the dimensions of the standard, factory-produced Corten sheet, so that nothing was wasted.

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It has three floors with, unusually for the time, the living room on the top floor, to take advantage of the views over the utterly charming Highgate cemetery and Waterlow park opposite. The interior is all original – kitchen, built-in storage, quarry tiles. The long, low linear shelf which runs the length of one wall is a detail he used often. And there is, of course, fabulous original  furniture – Barcelona arm chairs and coffee table, and Eames’ LCW wood lounge chairs and ubiquitous (but no less than fabulous) DSR chair.

It’s for sale, and sadly, I won’t be buying it. Corten house via The Modern House.

More wonderful spaces, here. More design heros, here.

a 70s modernist.

A big linear space, not high ceilinged but light and white and bright, with large windows on three sides. A curved, raw brick half-circle creates a dynamic division within the living space, and provides a back-drop for the beautiful metal spiral stair that meanders up to the next level.

The otherwise white box is given texture and mood with a dark timber-lined ceiling, adding interest and warmth. The ceiling opens to form a roof light allowing light to flood in over the kitchen.

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FOUR_BEDROOM_LargeThis three-bedroom house was built in the 1970s; the best bits were kept, refurbished and an extension added. In a vibrant part of London, close to the lovely green spaces of Highbury Fields, and it’s for sale… I could, could you?

Via The Modern House

More wonderful spaces, here

a glamorous modernist.

In a series of low-slung, white, modernist buildings set among vineyards is this hotel. The warm, earth-toned interiors are dominated by wood and slate, with timber slat walls dividing the linear spaces according to function. Copper light fittings and bronze sculptural pieces add glamour to the wonderfully textural, bespoke furniture pieces.

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This is the first project in Portugal to be certified under BREEAM. BREEAM (BRE – Environmental Assessing Method) is a standardised environmental assessment method and rating system for buildings. A BREEAM assessment uses recognised measures of performance to evaluate a building’s specification, design, construction and use. The measures used represent a broad range of categories and criteria from energy to ecology. More about BREEAM, here

So – good looks AND green credentials. I think I’d like to be checking in about now…

L’and Vineyards, Montemor, Portugal by StudioMK27 with Promontorio architects; photography Fernando Guerra.

More wonderful spaces, here

hampstead emporium.

Hampstead Village in North London is a village in the true sense, and the most wonderful place to amble around. It is home to the wonderfully exuberant and eccentric Hampstead Antique Emporium, a narrow winding arcade of tiny antique shops, tucked behind Perrins Court.

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Each is a place you want to peruse at leisure, where every piece for sale has a history. The owners are passionate about their wares, and that passion shows. Three of my favorites:

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1. Maud and Mabel (feature image and above) exudes calm and serenity. The backdrop is natural and neutral, and the products are all tones of white, pale beige, pale blue and eau-de-nil. Karen has styled the shop to within an inch of its life – it is beautiful. She carries wonderful ceramics by top ceramicists; the tightly edited selection mean the pieces form a cohesive whole. There is a distinctly Japanese feel (2 of the ceramicists are Japanese) and the Japanese raku ware are standout pieces, as well as plates painted with a pattern of old lace. Other items are staunchly Brirish and utilitarian – string, scissors, cards, towels – but all things of beauty. Table linens and a small collection of clothing are soon to be added (hooray!)

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2. The Modernist stocks vintage jewellery from the 1930s to the 1970s, mainly Scandinavian and American; beautiful sculptural pieces, each one a statement. Vintage silver, copper, bronze and jewel-coloured 1950s enamels; it is the mid-century Danish stuff that really resonates for me – vintage Georg Jensen, Henning Koppel and Nianna Ditzel, amongst others (I have a silver choker from here that I adore). The owner Nicole’s interest in American Modernist copper jewellery was sparked by a piece her mother had bought in New York just after the war; spending time in NY she became hooked. Scandinavian silver was later added and the result is an amzing collection of unique pieces.

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3. Loved Again is all 50s snd 60s homewares – sorbet-coloured melamine plates, baskets, mid-century furniture and plastics. It’s all about shape and colour, sourced from all around. Monica is a cook and it shows in the wonderful collection of 1950s kitchen aids, later to become household objects during the rise of mass production. Babycham glasses inprinted with sweet baby deers are best sellers and about as iconic of the era as it gets.

Hampstead Antique and Craft, 12 Heath Street Hampstead NW3

More found objects, here