In Support of Good Design
Updated: Mar 11, 2020
Sarah & Nancy...
While at a dinner of architect types in New York, I was told this story and I thought of you guys, hopefully I have remembered all.
Maison du Verre ( built between the two great wars)
So-called Maison do Verre, built for a doctor and his wife, which is constructed entirely of glass blocks; use of industrial materials is everywhere. Structure is steel, riveted & exposed. Stair railings are steel pipes; treads are open metal grilles. Floor of the living area is covered in white studded rubber tiles. Banks of warehouse perforated metal shelving; all custom-made. Electrical controls are clustered in freestanding pods.
Revolving closets, pivoting glass screens, sliding walls, folding partitions, a retractable stair linking two rooms and adjustable track lighting.
Maison de Verre is not merely a "functional" solution to a difficult building site. It's much more than that. Here, technology and industrial materials (glass block, rubber tile, steel, aluminum) are not only used but displayed--not out of necessity, but out of delight.!House was completed in 1932.
Pierre Chareau designer
It is true that Chareau was trained as a furniture maker, and his career was primarily in the field of interior decoration. !But what distinguished Chareau is that he used industrial elements in a visually decorative way. Technology could be fun.
Perhaps for that reason this "machine for living"--which was far more technically sophisticated than anything that other modernist architects were building at the time--remained unknown, exerting little influence on other designers.
It may also have been ignored because Chareau, like Eileen Gray and Jacques Dunand (who also produced strikingly original interiors), were not architects but a decorator.
I hope that we continue to work on these inappropriate thoughts and recognize talent &!collaboration.