I know, two posts in one day. What the heck is going on?! I just remembered that Tootie (one of the owners of Reform School, not Kim Fields) ran into Kanye at Barney's in New York last week. And I am totally jealous. Not because his songs are hot or that he talks smack about everyone and doesn't care, but because he's such a friggin design nerd. Just check out his blog. I'm guessing he's probably the only rap artist who knows who Rem Koolhaas is.
Okay, here's something I need to file under "Missed Opportunities": The Nut Tree in Vacaville. Let me say that I had a gazillion opportunities to visit that place as a kid and teenager. But no, I always went to the other side of the freeway for the stupid Old Navy and Sam & Libby outlets. I can't believe we never even ate there. We passed up the Nut Tree for Lyon's diner? Man, teenagers are dumb! Of course, at that time, modernism and Alexander Girard meant nothing to me. Come on, I was all about The Gap back then. And I'm sure I would have had little appreciation and walked out of there trashing the place thinking, "That place looks soooo old!"
You can read more about The Nut Tree on Reference Library's blog. He did a really nice post about it that made me want to kick myself in the pants for not actually visiting it when I could have. Apparently, they reopened The Nut Tree in 2006, ahem..."bringing it into the 21st century" with Best Buy, Old Navy, Borders, and Jamba Juice. What, no Starbucks??
I've been spending some time googling Candida Hofer, a German artist, who's been photographing architecture for over 30 years. With spaces devoid of human interaction, there is an eerie, quiet stillness in her photographs that I find arresting.
While I was cleaning, I came across these postcards (first 2 images) of the Gropius House in Lincoln, Massachusetts. About 7 years ago, when I doing a summer architecture program in Cambridge, I, along with two other students/friends (Molly and Lorena), decided to go to the Gropius House. We were clearly poor planners as we hopped on a train to Lincoln without any idea of how we'd get from the station to the house. All we had was the address.
So when we got off the train, we walked to a nearby store and used a pay phone to call a taxi. Yes, I didn't even have my mini-brick cell phone at the time because roaming charges were too high (it was different time). About 10 minutes later, a man in an unmarked Dodge Caravan rolled up claiming to be the "taxi". Obviously, we were hesitant to get in, but since he had his 8-year old daughter riding shotgun, we figured he wasn't a murdering maniac. We survived the trip to the house, but stared at door the whole ride through in case we needed pull a hasty A-Team style exit.
The Gropius House was built in 1938. You can imagine what their neighbors must have thought of their house. I think it's safe to say they were not down with the Bauhaus International Style. It must have been a hideous eye sore to them. They were probably pissed he wasn't building some colonial or false-front Victorian type thing. Walter Gropius was certainly far ahead of his time, a real visionary. It's described as: "Modest in scale, the house was revolutionary in impact. It combined the traditional elements of New England architecture -- wood, brick, and fieldstone -- with innovative materials rarely used in domestic settings at that time -- glass block, acoustical plaster, and chrome banisters, along with the latest technology in fixtures."
He was also ahead of his time in using lights theatrically. Read this description: "The lighting in the dining room, for example, mixes a single art-gallery spotlight recessed in the ceiling, whose beam exactly covers the circular table but not the diners; a second spotlight in the study, backlighting the glass-block wall between the two rooms and silhouetting the sprawling plant that climbs the glass wall; and exterior floodlights illuminating the trees in the garden"
I couldn't find a photograph of the dining room when the museum light is on and everything else is darkened. But it's a stunning photo that shows his forethought in creating a dramatic space. You'll see a photograph of it if you visit.
So, if you're looking for inspiration with regard to architecture, design, or interiors and you'll be in New England...take a fieldtrip to the Gropius House and be wary of strange minivans. And yes, you can walk from the train station to the house.