Wednesday, September 21, 2011

The First Modern Dwelling - Kings Road, West Hollywood

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!


Wida said...

This is seriously my dream house! I want it!

Missing Amsie Blog

Ragazza said...

nice post :) great photos :)
Following each other?
visit me :)

Fabrizia said...

Thank you so much for your sweet comment !!!You're so kind, thank you for the help and the advice you're offering me, but unfortunately I'm alredy back in Italy and I'm pubblishing some more photos of my trip that I haven't the chance to pubblish before!
Come back soon to visit my blog, I'll be waiting for you!!

Cosa mi metto???

Ola said...

it proves that good architecture is always good!

Lady and Olga said...

I wish I could live in a place like that, with such a personality of its own and filled with memories and history !


Camilla's Secrets said...

Beautiful post !!..
Visit my blog if you don't know yet...and if you like it become my follower :)!

Squeeze the Pug said...

Dear Inherent Style,

Thank you for the heartwarming sincere comments.
It is very hard to believe that such a modern house would exist in 1922. It looks so modern, not much different from what we live in today. I was surprised to see how you actually incorporated Coco Chanel in this topic but I now understand. They both were radical and revolutionary in their makings and creations. They were like people from the distant future living amongst people in the present (or past for that matter). Thanks for sharing. I love understanding more about the history and the beginnings of the beautiful things that we still enjoy today and possibly appreciate more in the future.

absolutelyfaaabulous said...

What?? Yes hard to believe this is from 1922!!! I would die for a house like this (I would just 'fix up' the bedroom as, nope, am not too much of an avant-gardist for this).. or even just the chair and desk.. And so cool that they had this open door policy. They must have had an amazing life!

The Rule of Mr Kane said...

What a mazing house! and it was from 1922! even cooler!
so love the house and i would love to leave there!

cool post!


Aggie602 said...

This house was def modern even the shape of the grassed landscapes are rectilinear. You took very detailed and good pictures too.

Ashley said...

Wow. I think I've heard about this but have never seen pictures. So thank you for taking them! This is so far advanced for the 1920's. I'd guess 50's or 60's at the earliest. Weird! I'm most intrigued by these "sleeping baskets"...they're pretty cool! Don't know if I could sleep up there all night...but they're still cool nevertheless!

Isi, Wake up & smell the azahar said...

Wow, that house was built in 1.922, it's just unbelieve.

ZombieLace said...

I am impressed with the research you put into this! I looove the chanel dresses, they would look lovely on the ghost ladies of that house.

Jelisaveta said...

Beautiful! :)))) said...

talk about a house with character! Gorgeous architecture <3 and art!

Cari-Jane Hakes said...

Oh My - what an architectural treat! Thank you so much for the tour! The details are so modern and pared down - they could easily be in any home magazine TODAY. I adore the idea of them sleeping outside! I think I'm going to have go back and look through that entire post again!

theolivetree said...

stunning house! great drawings!!

Lylia said...

Oh I'm sorry I didn't understand the word "fugly", what does it mean ? :)

Great blog !

xx, Lylia

pinkmate said...

love the 1920s sketches!


stylecomb said...

It's so mind baffling to see designers be so ahead of their time. It makes you wonder what they were thinking of their own work as they created it. Really amazing stuff.

Liz S said...

gosh gosh--that was so interesting. What a beautiful house and what a strangely appealing lifestyle that happened there.
The house has a Japanese style about it popularised in the late 60s and 70s. I adore the stairs and the copper fireplace.

Pearl said...

Such a fun post - I really love it. Thanks so much for stopping by my blog and leading me to yours - it is fabulous and definitely bookmarked and followed! It also makes me miss CA!

A Norwegian said...

Such a beautiful house! I would love to visit!

Anonymous said...

more pictures of you, please