last week i spent six days in the southern chicago suburbs for work. the saturday that i drove back to wisconsin, i took a detour to plano, illinois to see the farnsworth house, ludwig mies van der rohe's masterpiece of a residence along the fox river.
i was extremely impressed not only with the house, but with the visitor center and the staff. i was running fifteen minutes late for my tour when i got there, but it was absolutely no problem at all to move me over to the next one, and the woman in the gift shop cheerfully put in a documentary about the house for me while i waited.
the house is one of those iconic places that is pictured in every architecture and art history book you'll ever pick up. mies van der rohe accomplished great modernist architecture in this house, and it's no wonder at all that since it was first heard of, it's been world famous.
i'm a big fan of modernist and contemporary architecture, as you might already guess by some of my previous posts. i read dwell magazine to get an idea of the trends, i look at photos in house books and other periodicals... but nothing compares to being able to stand inside the house and experience it for yourself. a house is a 3-D object that can't be appreciated by looking at a photograph, just like a a sculpture can't be appreciated fully until you can walk around it. a house you have to be able to walk around, and walk inside of.
the outside of this house is impressive, but it's when you're inside that you feel you've been transported. standing anywhere inside the house, one cannot see any of the supports holding up the lower porch or any part of the I-beams that touch the ground. you're lifted five feet and some inches off the ground, and with the flawless floor-to-ceiling windows, you feel almost like you're floating through the woods.
mid-century modern = one of my favorite eras in 20th century architecture. this falls into that very broad category, but mostly it's in the international style. theory, of course, being an art history fanatic, is where it's all at. one of my favorite concepts that this house embraces, being an international style home, is the twofold juxtaposition of new-world and old-world. first, it's a modern house in a natural setting. new and old. in the materials of the house, mies used steel and glass along with roman travertine marble and rare primavera wood from guatemala.
it's flawless. i want one. :)
all photos (c) katie mothes 2010