All posts tagged: Modernism

Maison Louis Carré by Alvar Aalto

Inside Maison Louis Carré by Alvar Aalto

Maison Louis Carré – Finnish architect Alvar Aalto’s only remaining building in France – is a modernist architectural masterpiece situated about an hour outside of Paris. Open to the public from March to November, it’s a must-visit, Scandinavian gem for architecture and design buffs looking to get a deeper insight into his design process. As an avid Aalto fan myself, I’d already visited his home and studio in Helsinki, and was keen to step off the beaten tourist trail of Paris and step inside another Aalto interior, which combined architecture, furniture and design into a total work of art. The house is located in the remote village of Bazoches-sur-Guyonne and was the home of French art dealer Louis Carré. He acquired the sloping site in 1955 and the following year met Aalto at the Venice Biennale while the architect was supervising his pavilion there. They immediately bonded over their love of fine things – fine art, good wine, the good life – and became friends for life. Carré commissioned Aalto to design him a house that could serve both as a private …

modernism reimagined: MENU spring 2016

Modernism Reimagined: MENU Spring 2016

It’s the start of the annual design and furniture fairs – northmodern, IMM cologne, Maison & Objet Paris and Stockholm Furniture Fair should be on your radar – which means all the top brands are revealing their latest designs. One of my Scandi favourites is MENU (which I’ve written about before here) whose ethos I greatly admire. Their philosophy is simple: they’re (like me) obsessed with clever solutions for modern living and want to make beautiful objects for everyday use. Collaborating with super-talented designers, their crisp, carefully considered, minimalist furniture is designed to last and fill the home with functional but ultimately beautiful little touches. ‘We want to make the world better, less complicated, a little bit nicer to wake up to,’ they say. This is their Spring 2016 lookbook entitled Modernism Imagined (with the title alone, I already like it…). As always, the styling is immaculate. The images have got a lovely retro mid-century vibe, with moody lighting and a backdrop of speckled marble and Mad Men-era, dark wooden panelling. You can just imagine someone casually dropping onto the daybed above, stiff …

Your Home Needs This: bentwood chair

Your Home Needs This #05: Thonet’s bentwood chairs

I’m welcoming in another week in January with another ‘Your Home Needs This’ post, where I profile a must-have design object that is on my wishlist or in my own home. You know, pieces of furniture that are beautiful, but functional and timeless too, that you keep seeing popping up in all those swoon worthy Pinterest and magazine shots. This time it’s the turn of Thonet’s classic bentwood chair – the king of chairs, if you like. This iconic coffee house chair was developed and perfected by German-Austrian cabinet maker Michael Thonet when he started experimenting with bending solid wood in the 1850s. Thonet’s technique made use of solid rods of beech that were less prone to splitting than other species such as oak or birch. The rods were placed in a pressure vessel, where steam would be applied until the resin surrounding the timber fibres became pliable. The wood could then be bent around the form and left to cure, forming the sculptural curve of the bentwood chair. The chair’s clean lines and economical use of material (comprising just six parts) …

Isokon Flats, Lawn Road, Hampstead

Isokon Flats, Lawn Road, Hampstead

This week I visited the Isokon flats in Hampstead as part of my Monday seminars at the Bartlett. Designed by Wells Coates for Molly and Jack Pritchard, and built between 1933 and 1934, Isokon has been described by Nikolaus Pevsner as ‘a milestone in the introduction of the modern movement into London’. This was an experiment in communal living, creating twenty-two ‘minimum’ flats for young, single professionals starting work in London. Famous residents include: Walter Gropius, Marcel Breuer, Arthur Korn, Moholy-Nagy, Agatha Christie and Lance Sieveking. The name ‘Isokon’ comes from the combination of the words ‘Isometric’ and ‘Construction’. The term came to denote a style of modern living; “Isokon is a proprietary word that I have coined to denote the application of modern functional design to houses, flats, furnishings and fittings”. The flats consisted of a bed-sitting room, a dressing room linked to a bathroom and a kitchenette. Each flat had purpose-built furniture and fittings, including a sliding table and divan bed. The reinforced concrete structure was finished with a cream-tinted cement wash. The whiteness …