Schindler's Studio-Residence


Schindler House, view at the driveway entrance of part of a very tall and dense copse of bamboo which runs along the front sidewalk (the pleasant sounds of a large, creaking wooden ship are heard when the wind blows)

Utopia. The house was built in 1922, and the grounds followed. The compound was an incredibly original creation and it almost totally baffled contemporaries. The people who built it and made it a happy place for themselves and their friends are long gone, and while no one has succeeded them in their residency, the Schindler Studio-Residence in West Hollywood has never failed to attract admirers, visitors and guests.

The original furniture is in storage, so as I tried to evoke the functions of the interior and exterior spaces in my reverential self-guided tour of this beautifully quirky place I had the odd impression I was walking through the remains of the palace of a sage or nobleman in a culture not yet discovered by the West. Actually that wouldn't be far from the truth.

Schindler House, view of the north wing from the walk leading to the architect's studio (the taller, white building is a neighboring apartment house)

Schindler House, view from the north wing of its private terrace and the plantings beyond, including the tall hedge shielding the walk to the architect's studio

Last year the NYTimes published an article about an important fight in which the foundation maintaining the house is currently involved, and it included this homage to Schindler's art on Kings Road:

Schindler was born in Vienna in 1887 and came of age amid the intellectual ferment that produced Sigmund Freud, Gustav Klimt and Arnold Schoenberg. He emigrated to the United States in 1914 and soon was working for Frank Lloyd Wright.

Several years later, Wright sent him to Los Angeles to supervise a project, the Hollyhock House, built for Aline Barndsall, an oil heiress. He decided to stay and open his own architectural practice.

In 1922, Schindler built his famous home, designing it, in the words of the British historian and critic Reyner Banham, ''as if there had never been houses before.''

Even today it is striking in its simplicity and originality. Glass, concrete and redwood are the principal materials. There are few doors, just sliding panels inspired by Japanese houses. Rather than bedrooms, there are canvas ''sleeping porches'' on the roof. Furniture is sleek and angular, and the boundary between indoors and outdoors is blurred.

What went on inside the house while Schindler and his wife lived there was at least as remarkable as the house itself.

Both were social and political radicals, and they turned their home into a salon for artists and all manner of utopians, from Communists to theosophists to vegetarians. Guests and tenants included the photographer Edward Weston, the composer John Cage and the novelist Theodore Dreiser.

Schindler died in 1953, and his wife continued to occupy the house until her death in 1977.

She established Friends of the Schindler House to preserve the property, and in 1994 the group received an injection of cash after arranging a partnership with the Museum of Applied and Contemporary Art in Vienna, of which [Peter] Noever is the director. Since then, the house has been used for concerts, exhibitions and cultural events.

(Because of structural deterioration at the Schindler House, the World Monuments Fund placed it on its list of 100 most endangered sites in 2002.)

See also this earlier post and the link there.

this is my all time favorite house EVER. with Eames' Case Study house in Pacific Heights a decent-but-far second.

Check out Hiroshi Sugimoto's photo triptych of the Schindler house, too. Like sideways Rothkos

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Published on August 9, 2004 2:15 PM.

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