A Mixture of Homes Designed by Charles Gwathmey & Robert Siegel
It’s rare that I bring across imagery that’s not targeted at a specific project, I like to keep things grouped in sections to reference at a later date. This time though I’m breaking the rule and I’ve decided to summarise some works that are influencing me at this moment in time, also the designers behind these builds and how they started producing works of this caliber. Although, I guess all of these are by the same architect firm so it could still count as ‘grouped’.
What interests me is the idea of inspirations and how this affects our work, a lot of the time when I hear a creative likes certain things or is inspired in their work by a particular subject that’s of interest to me, I instantly feel a connection with them. Usually what they make ends up being on the same level as what I like, or at least it shares common ground with my many thoughts. So when I hear Bauhaus, I’m pretty much settled that the work’s going to have some of those elements involved, and here we can definitely see it in Charles Gwathmey and Robert Siegel’s design work.
My interest peaked when I saw this particular inspiration and started reading about Charles Gwathmey and his backstory as an architect. One of the most fascinating things about Charles, in my opinion anyway, was that in 1966 he rose to fame for a house and studio he designed for his parents in Amagansett, NY. It’s possibly his best known work, but at the time he wasn’t a licensed architect so when he did take the professional licensing exam, he was surprised to see a multiple-choice question on the test that asked “Which of these is the organic house?” The choices included the house he designed for his parents. He said that he wanted to answer that the organic house was his, but in order to pass the exam he chose Frank Lloyd Wright’s Fallingwater House. He knew that was the answer they wanted. He passed. I don’t know about you, but I find it quite incredible that he would have a house that he designed on his licensee test, surely that has to be a first.
So you’re probably wondering what the exact influences are, well Charles studied under the one and only Paul Rudolph at Yale whilst gaining a masters degree in architecture. You can definitely see these common themes running throughout his works. The principles obviously rubbed off and Gwathmey generally used interior goods to represent them, often you would see Bauhaus posters and Marcel Breuer chairs included, also design classics made by Thonet which never go out of style. As you can imagine, I could talk for a long while about Robert Siegel as well but it could cover a whole book, so I’ll leave you to peruse at your own will and enjoy the different shots of the buildings, mainly archive ones. You really need to go to their website to see the rest as there’s some very special architecture, particularly in the residential field. If you’re interested in delving in to the life of Charles Gwathmey a bit more, this interview from 2000 should do the job and this page on Triangle Modernist Houses will give you extra text and pictures. Enjoy!