A winter view of the house in 1971, showing the original insect screening of the porch, and the roller shades added by the owner after the curtains were damaged by flood waters. image via Wikimedia Commons
The Farnsworth House is a 1,500 sq.ft home designed and constructed by Ludwig Mies van der Rohe between 1945-51. It is a one-room weekend retreat in a once-rural setting. The design is recognized as a masterpiece of the International Style of architecture and was designated a National Historic Landmark in 2006, after joining the National Register of Historic Places in 2004. The cost of project was $74,000 in 1951 ($648,000 in 2012 dollars). There was a cost overrun of $15,600 over the approved pre-construction budget of $58,400. This created havoc, lawsuits and counter lawsuits ensued until the courts ordered Dr Farnsworth to pay her bill.
At his inaugural lecture as director of the department in 1938, Mies stated:
“In its simplest form architecture is rooted in entirely functional considerations, but it can reach up through all degrees of value to the highest sphere of spiritual existence into the realm of pure art.”
This sentence summarized what had become Mies van der Rohe’s consistent approach to design: to begin with functional considerations of structure and materials, then to refine the detailing and expression of those materials until they transcended their technical origins to become a pure art of structure and space.
The dominance of a single, geometric form in a pastoral setting, with a complete exclusion of extraneous elements normally associated with habitation, reinforces the architect’s statement about the potential of a building to express “dwelling” in its simplest essence.
As Mies stated on his achievement, “If you view nature through the glass walls of the Farnsworth House, it gains a more profound significance than if viewed from the outside. That way more is said about nature—it becomes part of a larger whole.” Farnsworth House is the essence of simplicity in the purest form, displaying the ever-changing play of nature.
image via farnsworthhouse.org http://www.farnsworthhouse.org/history.htm
Information for this post was obtained from the following resources: Wikipedia http://www.farnsworthhouse.org/history.htm
Sometimes it takes a leap of faith to “mix it up” when decorating a space. An eclectic approach, or mixing it up refers to combining seemingly disparate styles of furniture and accessories. That could include: an industrial coffee table, a Scandinavian style sofa, a mid century classic lounge chair, a vintage lighting fixture, perhaps an antique gilded mirror or Victorian footstool. The point is, there are many styles that play well together. Ultimately, success is achieved by blending and balancing the elements in a way that each distinct piece is an important part of the whole, a composition of varying personalities if you will. I have always approached decorating with the philosophy that I need to have a connection to the things that I live with. The item needs to be beautiful to me, not just a functional piece. I don’t adhere to a singular era or style.
Having said all of this, I will now add some of the fine tuning details for creating your signature environment. Leonardo da Vinci is credited with the quote, “simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.” As I have developed and honed my philosophy on decor, it has gradually grown into a simpatico with the Miesian theory of “less is more”. I need my spaces to breathe and allow for the individual elements to shine and be seen. If you overcrowd a room with furniture or accessories it creates a heavier space with a cluttered vibe and the individual beauty of each item gets lost in the confusion. Nothing weighs a room down more quickly then loading every flat surface with “things”. Someone visiting my home once said, “in every direction I turn there is a thoughtful, creative, view”, and he was not speaking about gazing through the windows.
The last few things to consider are the horizontal and vertical spaces, or simply said, the walls, floor, and ceiling. They have the potential to help create your room palette, add texture, and either calm or invigorate the energy. You can stay monochromatic in the decor or not, and use large art for color, multiple photos, posters, collections of tarnished silver trays or mirrors, whatever works for you. The most important thing to remember is to always edit your work. Keep in mind that it is a dynamic expression of you. It is changeable and adaptable to change. Think of the room as a visual expression of your autobiography.
image via mixandchic.com
image shared via thecuratedhouse.com
image via niceity.livejournal.com
Four Blue Chairs
I love chairs, all different kinds of chairs. It was the “Four Blue Chairs” that punctuated the turn in the road that led to being an e-tailor of chairs. My personal collection has a sweet 70’s Thonet rocker, a pair of well worn and loved Siesta chairs by Ingmar Relling, an antique rocker from West Virginia, a pair of Otto Gerdau beechwood chairs, mid-century wrought iron chairs, and a handful of other mid mo chairs that have come along for the ride!
Mies ven der Rohe is often quoted for saying, “A chair is a very difficult object. A skyscraper is almost easier. …” and since he designed both I take him at his word. The chair is the ultimate example of form and function…..
So friends, CHEERS and CHAIRS and a Happy 2013 !
In your journey through the world of modern furniture, you may have heard about the “Barcelona X Chair”. This famous mid-century design was created by Mies van der Rohe. Born in Germany on March 27, 1886, Ludwieg Mies van der Rohe was an avant garde supporter and creator of modern art and architecture. He is known today as one of the leading and most influential exponents of the refined glass-and-steel architecture of the mid-20th-century.
Mies was famous for his use of…
If you love Mies as we do then we are pleased to direct you to this awesome article. The photography is by Corine Vermeulen ( for Placement Project), and produced by Whitney Dangerfield of the New York Times. Credit should also be given to the audio by Danielle Aubert. Make sure to read the related article and the comments, and hoorah, there will be a book by the talented women at Placement (www.placementpublication.org), Danielle Aubert, Lana Cavar, and Natasha Chandani.
If These links do not work use the Blogroll links…well worth the viewing
There are so many interesting aspects to this piece. For starters, we revisit an important part of the Mid Century Modern Movement in America, and learn some of the why’s and how’s of its beginnings. We also experience a socio/cultural view of life and lifestyles in Lafayette Park. This is a feast for the senses between the audio and visual experiences and the “stories” of those currently residing there. Take the time to read the comments at the end of the article. There is a vast array of emotions expressed in the comments and some strong opinions about Mies Architecture.
My growing interest in anything Mies comes from inheriting a home built by an architect who studied with Mies in Chicago. Please visit us at http://www.pgmod.com to learn more, and check out, “About”, http://www.pgmod.com/content/4-about-us If you have a minute I would love to hear your comments about how these mini visits into the lives of the current residents of Lafayette Park resonates with your interests in the Mid Century Modern experience.