All kinds of Elegance and Badassery
Inside an iconic modern masterpiece.
I’ve posted to Instagram about one of my design heroes, architect John Lautner before, so when I recently had the opportunity to spend a Harvest Moon-lit evening in one of his most celebrated residential works, the Silvertop House, I went into full-on GEEK OUT mode. One of the things I love the most about Lautner’s work in relation to other architects of the mid-century period is his mastery of mixing the curved plane with the straight, and in doing so, injecting a masterful touch of organic sensuality to otherwise quite geometric spaces. Walking through the home was like engulfing yourself in a symphony of light and line. The warmth of wood. The weight of stone. And the thoughtful ways (groundbreaking at the time) technology was used to elevate the experience within the concrete, wood and glass.
A bit of background: the house was originally begun in 1957, commissioned by businessman Kenneth Reiner (inventor of women’s spring-loaded hair barettes!) who, along with Mr. Lautner, worked together to design a home full of technological advances, including the one of the first infinity pools in Los Angeles. Some of my personal favorite details were the hidden rotating closet (Like a spice rack for your clothes!), the floor to ceiling automated vertical shutters that could be closed while the windows were open, allowing for subtle control of the light and temperature, and the fully retractable glass walls and roof in the master bathroom. Al fresco shower anyone? Overall there was a lot of automation in the house, and I was especially enamored with the custom brass panels of beautiful minimalist icons to indicate what each little knob activated. (I’ve been digging all over the internets to try and find out who designed those icons - if anyone reading this knows, please share in the comments!)
It was such a wonderful experience to be able to walk through that home and imagine living in such a thoughtfully constructed space. When this house was built, the day to day lives we lead now could only be imagined - but the focus on the simultaneously soothing and inspiring elements of thoughtful, dynamic design that Lautner utilized create a timelessness that enables this home (and many mid-century structures built with similar philosophies) to not only endure, but strike a real chord in the hearts of those of us living in this hectic “modern” age.
Note: Since it is a private home, photography was not allowed while I was visiting Silvertop. All included photos are by Cameron Carothers via Curbed LA and Julius Schulman.