The early modernist Lechner House by R. M. Schindler was featured on the cover of last Sunday’s New York Times Style Magazine. Restored by architect Pamela Shamshiri, who lives in it with her two children, it’s a modernist’s dream. I poured over the article, noting every wonderful detail and marveled at the extent to which Shamshiri had gone to restore and renew this Schindler masterpiece. In my research I found a video made to market the house prior to its restoration. It shows that much of Schindler’s original design had been renovated out of existence. Hat’s off to Ms Shamshiri for having restored and thus saved a noteworthy work by an important early modernist.
The editiors of the 2007 auction exhibition catalog, R M Schindler The Gingold Commissions by Los Angeles Modern Auctions, Reform Gallery and Michael and Gabrielle Boyd state; “that the two architects that still seem to us to be the central figures of Southern California modernism: (were) Rudolf Schindler (1887-1953) and Richard Neutra (1892-1970). Both men were born and educated in Vienna and counted as their mentors, Otto Wagner and Adolf Loos.”
After emigrating to Los Angeles from Vienna Schindler and Neutra were for a time associates at the firm of Frank Lloyd Wright. The influences of Loos, constructivist El Lissitsky, and Wright are evident in the work of Schindler. His use of stripped down functionalist patterns reminds me of the architecturally derived decorative patterns in the work of the mid-century Italian architect, Carlo Scarpa who as it turns out scrupulously studied the work of Josef Hoffmann and was a great admirer of Wright.
There’s a visually similar thread to the work of Loos, Schindler, Wright and Scarpa. The Schindler catalogue which serves today as a research tool, is rich in academic texts about Schindler’s work, discussing his architectural approach to furniture. The same can be said for the work of the others. Below are images from the catalog. I’m also including links to images of work by Carlo Scarpa. Loos, Wright, Neutra and Hoffman
I consider myself fortunate to have in inventory, a rolling storage cabinet by R. M. Schindler from the Sachs apartment. that appears in the 2007 catalog. You’ll find it as the last image in this post.