Schindler House, also known as Kings Road House was the first house built in the Modern style. I had it all to myself Sunday afternoon after the Flea Market. It was such a perfect day I didn't want to go home. Instead I decided to explore a few nooks and crannies I'd been itching to investigate and Schindler House was high on the list.
R.M. Schindler was born in Vienna in 1887 and worked for Frank Lloyd Wright in 1914 in Chicago. (You realize I am cutting straight to the chase and skipping a huge segment of his life... Including his relationship with another, more famous architect who came to LA by way of Chicago and will undoubtedly be covered in a future post - Richard Neutra.) He discovered LA when Wright sent him out to supervise the construction of Hollyhock House in 1920 (another future post featuring a moat in a living room!).
After completion of Hollyhock House, Schindler and his wife Paulette vacationed in Yosemite. The camp site influenced the design and spirit of the house with the idea of the residence intending to be a cooperative live/work space, excluding a formal living room and dining room and even traditional bedrooms. Just wait until you see how they slept!
Before his departure to Yosemite, Schindler discussed a collaboration on a house with an engineer named Clyde Burgess Chace. Chace worked with another Chicago architect named Irving Gill who constructed walls using tilt-slab concrete. Schindler was influenced by this technique in his own structures. They settled on a piece of land on Kings Road in West Hollywood. He and his wife were going to coexist with Chace and his wife Marian (and so began modern life in LA LA Land!). Construction took place between February - June of 1922.
(For this portion of the narrative, I am quoting directly from the leaflet given to me in the ticket office.) The space of the lot was divided into seven sections, four of which were assigned specifically to each of the four residents who would inhabit the house. For Schindler, this division was an expression of the independent but common goals of each the individuals in the house.
The influence of the open floor plan integrating the outdoor space is something we often take for granted here in California. This architectural opportunity could only be realized in a climate like ours, and this is what Schindler found so appealing about LA. Just like the rest of the transplants (myself included!) Schindler stayed for the weather!
Glass panels, redwood, canvas and concrete were used throughout the house. The copper fireplace was a favorite touch. Really warmed up an otherwise "cold" space - both in design and actual temperature!
Hard to believe this kitchen existed in 1922!
...Or this bathroom for that matter...
Another beautiful outdoor space.
A study with original furnishings
Rickety stairs leading to the "sleeping baskets"
The "sleeping baskets' or loft was added when the wives became pregnant. It is completely open air and knowing how much our weather cools at night - even in the summer months - I really can't believe they slept here! They must have been a special breed of camper!
(I found these examples in my Chanel book, by Harold Koda from the exhibit I saw at the MOMA back in '05)
As I toured the house I tried to imagine what they might have worn in these rooms (well, I only thought about the wives, to be truthful!) It occurred to me Coco Chanel was radical in her approach to dress just as Schindler was radical in his approach to living. I found some things she designed the year the Schindler House was built.
Probably more than any other designer of the Twentieth Century she considered utility and functionalism and used cotton jersey much in the way Schindler used canvas and concrete. She freed women in every sense by eliminating the use of corsets and applying traditional menswear details such as pockets to her garments. With the use a pocket, a woman didn't even have to carry a handbag if she didn't want to... Of course, who in their right mind wouldn't want to with the introduction of the 2.55 quilted masterpiece in 1955? Every Chanel client would gladly be burdened thereafter!
During their residency, the Schindlers maintained an open door policy and Pauline organized meetings that made use of the spaces as a center of political, cultural, and social importance. She may have sported this fringe ombre number - or she may have been a total granola! I'd like to think she was as sophisticated as her way of thinking...
Schindler was never taken very seriously in his career. Partially because LA was never taken very seriously... It seems to me two traits inherent in LA lead to the inspiration and innovation of Schindler - the absence of history and the beautiful weather!