Search results for "Adolf Loos"
The exhibition, Ways to Modernism: Josef Hoffmann, Adolf Loos, and their Impact at the MAK brings together the work of these two architects and places them in a historical context of the rise of mass production in the 19th century, work of Otto Wagner as their predecessor, and the urban transformation of Vienna. The exhibition also situates the works of Loos and Hoffmann as trajectories within modern and contemporary architecture culture, tracing their design strategies to the present in the works of artists, architects, and designers. In this respect, the exhibition treats history as a living process, making connections throughout two centuries. This year marks the 150th anniversary of the MAK and of the Ringstrasse, an important institution and an important urban artifact in the history of modern architecture, design, and urbanism.
The exhibition places the work of these designers within a milieu of things, goods, and objects, which were designed for mass production and consumption. Hence viewers can see the new materials that came about, such as plastics and meerschaum, furniture and fabric catalogues, and manufactured porcelain and textile products. With these artifacts the story of the rise of mass production is placed within the context of Austria and Central Europe. The work of Otto Wagner, from his urban plan for Vienna to his furniture designs for the Postal Savings Bank, is placed within this culture of things as the predecessor of the two figures. Loos and Hoffman, then, become the figures who both worked within and against that culture, looking for ways to redirect it.
The centerpiece of the exhibition is two bedrooms: one by Adolf Loos for his wife, Lina (1903) and one by Hoffmann for the Salzer family (1902). Where Loos provided a structure and rails along the walls both holding different kinds of fabric, Hoffmann designed every item in the bedroom with the same geometric pattern. Here are two different ideas of surface, ornament, and materiality. Loos’ bedroom is an all-over surface, a cladding with the furry fabric covering over horizontal surfaces (floor, bed frame) and the curtains along the rails covering the vertical surfaces. Hoffmann’s bedroom on the other hand consists of scaling and playing with the same geometric pattern in different materials, on different objects, from the carpet and the bedsheets to the night table and the bed. The contrast of the sensous fabric of Loos to the abstract geometric pattern of Hoffmann also corresponded to contrasting views on the designer’s role: minimal intervention versus total control.
There are other one-to-one scale reconstructions of rooms and spaces in the exhibition: Margarete Schutte-Lihotzky’s design for an apartment for a working single woman (1928) and Hoffmann’s design for a boudoir of a movie star (designed for an exhibition in Paris in 1937). These one-to-one reconstructions well display the sense of the relationship between things and objects of modernism and the spaces and the lives that had to be crafted, designed, and accommodated at the same time. In an attempt to recreate the intimacy of these worlds, the exhibition also presents some of the different forms and spaces of privacy in modernism. One of the goals of modern design, as the exhibition reminds us, was to organize, protect, or enhance that world.
Yet there is also information on how these private lives would become public, in the example of several public statements by architects, public housing projects in and around Vienna as well as the history of urbanism in Vienna.
The exhibition concludes by tracing Hoffmann and Loos’ positions into the contemporary world of architecture. Following figures like Hans Hollein and Donald Judd, Lacaton & Vassal, Werner Neuwirth and Anna Heringer are presented as employing Loos’ different design strategies of ready-made, raumplan, and Do-It-Yourself. In this respect, the exhibition has a bias toward Loos, and this is Loos read as an architect who developed different strategies in different contexts. Yet one thing the exhibition and the history it portrays shows is that so much of Loos and Hoffmann’s work have something to do with carving out a space for privacy and finding ways of public appearance, where Loos presents clear cut boundaries between public and private. Perhaps in tracing the trajectory of these two figures, the question that remains is what are the new private worlds, and how does architecture articulate these worlds? Perhaps this question could also expand the final positions presented in the exhibition.
In presenting a historical context through things and objects and placing architecture within that context, the exhibition brings forth a fresh history of an important moment in the history of modernism. In further emphasizing the role of design in the society, in positing that there are different ways that design can be social, the exhibition puts forward important questions.
This new book challenges your preconceptions of architectural ornament, past and present
In 1902, the under-known Prussian architect and author, Hermann Muthesius, promoted what he labeled Sachlichkeit, prior to the prophecies of his seminal Austrian contemporary, Adolf Loos. It summarized a design philosophy that advocated the “elimination of every merely decorative form,” giving way only to “form according to demands set by purpose.”
Endeavoring with fin-de-siècle fervor to shape how a new century could build, Muthesius declared that “ornament” would exist only if endemic to the overall conception of surface and materiality rather than as some extraneous froufrou that groped back at a severed past.
Loos later solidified his place as modernism’s harbinger with his more dogmatic credo: “Freedom from ornament is a sign of spiritual strength … (it) cannot any longer be made by anyone.”
The design platform for Europe and the Americas at least seemed fixed. Ornament gave way to “decoration” shaped by the personal choices of the end-user. Architecture’s task was best fulfilled when separated from art and replaced by the more practical assignment of delivering comfortable utility: The proverbial machine for living and a blank state of decoration with ornament led to its further devaluation, despite its former centrality to place making.
As this important volume reveals by concentrating on the greater Mediterranean basin of Christian Europe and the fluctuating contours of the Islamic world (descending from the classical Greek suzerainty and its successive Roman Empire shaped by Vitruvian aesthetic orthodoxy), the debate is far more nuanced. The case is made that—in built reality—no break with ornament ever fully took place, despite the intent and ethos of the modernists. Like history itself, ornament did not end in the 20th century but merely evolved with renewed force, ultimately from postmodernism’s backward glance.
Histories of Ornament was inspired by papers delivered at an international conference held at Harvard in 2012. Whether translated or seamlessly edited by Necipoğlu and Payne, it covers an unprecedented and stringent collection of scholarly research and reflection. It is not a history of ornament per se, but rather a rigorous and sometimes cautionary record of the history of ornament’s shifting meaning and theoretical basis. This volume assesses ornament as a legitimate aspect of designing the future built environment.
It is neither elegy nor encyclopedia; the purpose instead is summed up simply in the editors’ introduction as “to address what ornament does [and did].” The result is a summons to surrender preconceived notions about ornament as somehow apart from or inferior to architecture in its full range of possible expression.
Despite varying assessments by the diverse contributors on the present state of ornament, the book is enlivened by an acknowledgment that it owes part of its resurgence to the digital tools available in this still young century.
In Part I, “Contemporaneity of Ornament in Architecture,” the scholar Vittoria Di Palma acknowledges that even traditional ornament, such as that of the classical orders (so long removed from any underlying structural imperative) remains off limits to progress, while new technologies are both jumpstarting and inventing many others. Overall exterior surface patterning rendered essential to core architectural intent has been made feasible in ways that Edward Durell Stone or Frank Lloyd Wright were striving toward a half-century ago.
Di Palma reminds us, however, that “technology is not the wellspring of desire” and considers how other forces, distinct from the historic, religious, or nationalistic narrative, drive ornament’s return. Among her conclusions is their root in sensation and how “by operating on a biological level, by privileging the body and its forms of knowledge, both its affect and effect hold out promise of a potential universality.” In this way, globalization and its gradual imposition of common expectations across cultures emerge as an opportunity for shared sensation.
The sections build the case that while ornament often served as a signal of some victorious cultural imposition, the result was its absorption and adjustment leading to new, assimilated meanings.
In chapter six of the polemical Part II, “Ornament between Historiography and Theory,” scholar Maria Judith Feliciano examines the conceptual and syncretic invention of Mudéjar design by the revisionist 19th-century art historian, José Amador de los Ríos, who invented a label for the profound place of Islamic design ornament on the Iberian Peninsula. He transmuted the historic impact of seven centuries of regional Moorish control and, above all, the Arabesque expression of its distinctive ornamented architecture into a metaphor of ultimate Catholic vindication.
Feliciano explained, “De los Ríos defined it as a reflection of the grandeur of the Christian national character, which was capable of effecting conquest, tolerating diversity, and demanding the artistic and intellectual participation of its citizens in the construction of a productive enlightened state.” In other words, the act of ornamental expropriation defined in terms of cultural and political submission underscores the inevitable goodness of a unitary monarchy. In the 20th century this led to its successor, the Fascist Francisco Franco. Franco’s minster of fine arts went farther still in pronouncing that Spain was not only the foremost agent for extending the Catholic religion and the past glories of Rome, but also “the transmitter of the artistic culture of Islam in the New World…which in an effort unparalleled in history was discovered and conquered by Spain, and by her was incorporated in the Occidental and Catholic culture.”
Ornament takes its place as the characterization of civilization’s advance whether good or evil.
Rather than being superfluous, ornament reclaims its design role freed from normative narratives. Its utility shifts not only in its application, but also in its innate, essential meaning for both contemporary practitioners and occupants alike.
In the architecture of today, Sachlichkeit gives way to Gesamtkunstwerk. Muthesius and his cohorts did not so much get their wish, as they set the stage for design theory and its built yield as a new vocabulary characterizing ornament’s essential place in architecture.
Humankind relies on sensation to thrive, rather than merely survive.
Histories of Ornament Gülru Necipoğlu and Alina Payne, Princeton University Press, $60
Top picks from Miami’s art and design week
Today the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) solicited input on the future of the city's best-known—and most threatened—postmodern interior.
The commission heard testimony from its research department and members of the public on ONE UN New York Hotel's (formerly the United Nations Hotel) Lobby and Ambassador Grill & Lounge, two glittery disco-era spaces designed by Kevin Roche and John Dinkeloo Associates.
As recently as January, the spaces inside the Midtown East building were set to be demolished by property owner Millennium Hotels and Resorts.
Local luminaries like Robert A.M. Stern, Belmont Freeman, and Alexandra Lange, as well as a bi-coastal Docomomo contingent spoke in favor of landmarking. The item would be the first postmodern interior to be designated a New York City landmark, and the "youngest" after Roche and Dinkeloo's Ford Foundation (1963-68) which has interior and exterior landmark status.
The Ambassador Grill & Lounge, a small U-shaped restaurant in a windowless basement (1976), sports inset light fixtures, vaulted faux skylight clad in trellised mylar panels, and more shiny surfaces than Studio 54, all of which create the illusion of capaciousness and light. Along East 44th Street, the hotel lobby (1983) features a stepped glass dome roof accessed via a freestanding marble-columned hallway. The LPC’s research department called the connected rooms some of the "best public spaces" of New York from that period.
The researchers' conclusions were reflected in public testimony that invoked the glamour of the rooms and their role in the see-and-be-seen public life of the city. Liz Waytkus, executive director of modern architecture preservation organization Docomomo, called Roche and Dinkeloo's interiors “among the best” public spaces of the era. In contrast to the severity of modernism, the fluid spaces reflect a “humanistic” energy not often associated with the architecture of the time.
Docomomo’s Jessica Smith read a statement on behalf of Robert A.M. Stern. Stern offered “strong support” of designation, noting that Roche designed both the building itself and its interiors. He called the grill and lobby “masterworks of modernism produced by a master at his prime,” comparing them to surviving postmodern peers like Sir John Soane's Museum in London and Adolf Loos’s American Bar in Vienna. Smith also read a statement for Curbed architecture critic Alexandra Lange, who said her research on postwar American corporate design suggests the rooms represent a “key moment” in late modern design. "The interiors change scale and increase the sensuality of a pair of large skyscrapers that draw the prismatic curtain walls of the UN buildings inside, creating a total work of architecture."
To the frustration of many who testified, including Docomomo and the preservation advocacy organization Historic Districts Council (HDC), the commission did not include the lobby’s sunken seating area in the designation. The LPC said it believed the relative lack of original elements in the seating area merited exclusion, as the main lobby and hypostyle corridor under consideration offer a “processional experience” to and from the grill.
The iconic interiors have attracted attention beyond New York City. Daniel Paul, a Southern California–based architectural historian and expert in late modern glass skin architecture, flew in from L.A. to attend today’s meeting. Early this morning, he went to the hotel to check on the state of the interiors. Millennium, he said, has altered the space substantially but not irreversibly. In the grill, the faux skylight is covered in a semi-opaque “cheap-looking” plastic, while the neon acrylic wine racks were replaced by wood features. The bar’s tivoli lights are gone, and its mirrored backdrop has been replaced with wallpaper.
Despite the recent changes, Paul, a Docomomo member who with Waytkus drafted the RFE (a Request for Evaluation, the first step in the landmark process), said that Roche and Dinkeloo’s work is one of the most intact “high design” spaces of the era. “Taste goes in cycles,” he said. "When the cycle of appreciation takes a dip, that’s when these spaces are the most vulnerable." Roche has offered to work with the property owners pro bono to see how the distinctive features could be preserved while updating the space to their satisfaction. (Update: In an email to Paul during the hearing today, Roche stated that his office would be willing to do an initial consultation pro bono but then "see where it goes.")
Representatives from Millennium did not comment at today's meeting.
As the discussion concluded, LPC chair Meenakshi Srinivasan stated that the commission would do further research and vote at to-be-determined meeting.
Iconic Tribune Tower sells for $240 million
This year ICFF and Wanted Design span ten days and two boroughs with events happening 24/7. Here are a few of the pieces from the show that we are excited about seeing up close in person.Embrace Lounge Chair Carl Hansen & Søn Created by Austrian design trio EOOS, the Embrace Lounge Chair is a more relaxed version of a dining chair by the same name that debuted in 2015. The new version combines Carl Hansen’s classic wood frame with a comfortable upholstered cushion.
Lattice is the second collaboration between Nanimariquina and the Bouroullec brothers. For it, they experimented with the options of ancient kilim techniques to create a pattern that was balanced and proportional, yet also irregular. It comes in two color variations, as well as the option to commission custom pieces.
Pluralis Fritz Hansen
This new meeting table design by Danish designer Kasper Salto is aptly named—it is intended to accommodate a variety of different settings and function as a blank slate for creativity.
New finishes Fantini
Gunmetal, copper bronze, and British gold are three new finish options that Fantini is adding to its collection. These three hues have been trending heavily in kitchen and bath design, and now allow for an even larger range of customization.
Comforty Mellow Maja Ganszyniec
This couch, in addition to dozens of other award-wining ceramics, glassware, clothing, and furniture designs, will be on display at Pole Position, a presentation by Culture.pl on some of the best designs out of Poland.
Vague Stelle chandelier Santa & Cole
To celebrate their 30th anniversary, Barcelona-based lighting brand Santa & Cole is reissuing a fixture that was originally designed by Antoni de Moragas, one of Spain’s preeminent postwar architects. It was inspired by medieval architecture and the designs of Viennese Secessionists Joseph Maria Olbrich and Adolf Loos.
In his new book, Minnesota Modern: Architecture and Life at Midcentury, author Larry Millett reminds readers: “Midcentury modernism was more than just a style. At its heart, it offered the prospect of a world unchained from the past. Behind the movement lay a whole way of thinking about how to live, work, and play in the new suburban communities that sprang up after World War II.”
Perhaps never more so than in Minnesota, where a burgeoning, postwar population in the Twin Cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul began to sprawl beyond city boundaries across the fields and prairies, in large part because of the tract houses built quickly and inexpensively by Orrin Thompson Homes. Young couples could afford to marry and raise families in the new ramblers and drive their new cars on new highways connecting their cookie-cutter suburbs with new shopping malls and office buildings.
In fact, Millett opens his book with a 1953 image of Minnesota’s first cloverleaf highway interchange, built in 1937 just outside of Minneapolis in a soon-to-be first-ring suburb. There’s an argument to be made here: that midcentury modern—the good, the bad, and the ugly—is suburban. In his book, however, he covers not only modest suburban ramblers, but also how the reach of midcentury modern encompassed a remarkable array of architectural typologies in locations (rural, suburban, and urban) throughout the state—consider Marcel Breuer’s church at Saint John’s Abbey and University (Collegeville); Eliel Saarinen’s Christ Church Lutheran (Minneapolis); Eero Saarinen’s IBM Building (Rochester); the Northwestern National Life Insurance Building by Minoru Yamasaki (Minneapolis); and Victor Gruen’s Southdale Center (Edina), the first enclosed shopping mall in the United States. Midcentury modern also encompasses Ralph Rapson’s Guthrie Theater (razed), along with such no-less-venerated venues as the Terrace Theatre in Robbinsdale (mothballed), the now-iconic Dairy Queen in Roseville (still dishing up soft serve), and St. Paul’s Porky’s Drive-In (razed).
In addition to the square, affordable rambler, midcentury modern birthed other housing types, from the long, one-level ranch house, to compact metal Lustron homes, to the flat-roofed, glass-walled, open-plan, architect-designed residence. Millett includes 12 such “high-style” homes throughout Minnesota—by Frank Lloyd Wright and Twin Cities’ architects Elizabeth Close, Ralph Rapson, and Gerald Buetow, among others. But his investigation goes even deeper.
As Millett also points out, midcentury modern, which dominated architecture and design from about 1945 to the late-1960s, “penetrated like oil into the social, political, and cultural machinery of the times.” So while delving into these projects and more in a nearly 400-page book rich with photography and illustration, Millett also places Minnesota’s love of midcentury modernism in a broader context.
He traces Minnesota’s development and practice of midcentury modernism to three sources or “strains.” One was the work of such European architects like Adolf Loos, Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, Walter Gropius, Marcel Breuer, Rudolph Schindler, Richard Neutra, the Saarinens, Alvar Aalto, and Le Corbusier (“who was very fond of American concrete grain elevators, a building type invented in Minnesota in 1989”). Millett describes how these architects’ work and influences, combined with elements of art deco and art moderne, produced such Minnesota architects as Rapson—a proponent and practitioner of the International Style.
California’s ranch houses (even though their emphasis on outdoor living didn’t translate well in Minnesota’s tough winter climate) and the corresponding commercial version (affectionately named Googie) were the second source of influence. A third strain apparent in Minnesota’s midcentury modernism was the work of Frank Lloyd Wright, particularly his Usonian houses. Millett goes on to add that materials developed during World War II—laminated wood trusses that were used instead of steel, as well as prefabricated structures and prestressed concrete—also influenced the design and construction in midcentury modernism in Minnesota and elsewhere.
Despite these influences, Millett stresses that, “midcentury architecture in Minnesota was mostly a homegrown product.” Today, many of buildings designed by local and regional architects are sorely in need of preservation. The former architecture critic for the St. Paul Pioneer Press, Millett is an architectural historian whose previous books include Lost Twin Cities and Once There Were Castles: Lost Mansions and Estates of the Twin Cities. Both books, as their titles suggest, discuss the architectural treasures Minnesota has lost to the wrecking ball.
Millett’s new book concludes with a call to action. Though the “architectural legacy of the midcentury era in Minnesota is decidedly mixed,” he writes, citing instances of “drably utilitarian” public buildings, “excesses of urban renewal” in Minneapolis and St. Paul, and ill-planned suburbs, “the time has come to look at ways to protect significant works of the period.” Many of these works are now eligible for National Register of Historic Places designation.
What need to be saved, Millett continues, are not just individual “high-style homes” and the churches that have become “masterpieces of American architecture,” but entire neighborhoods of midcentury residences. The problem, he continues, is that “architectural modernism, especially in its high-style manifestations, has always had an elitist aura, and the general public has never really warmed to it.”
Minnesotans, with their no-nonsense approach, nonetheless cultivated a singular midcentury sensibility worth saving.