California, specifically Los Angeles, is recognized for being at the forefront of trends, be they fashion, legal or real estate and architecture. Los Angeles homes known world wide for their in-door / out-door living and seamless design between the two, bring out the maverick side of the architects that work and create here.
One of the founding fathers of the California home ideal was John Lautner. Lautner, originally from Marquette, Michigan, began his career in L.A. in the 1930’s after having apprenticed for six years under the great Frank Lloyd Wright. Wright, himself, claimed “Lautner to be the world’s second best architect.” This Saturday, July 16th, marks what would be Lautner’s 100th birthday.
In concert with design and architectural institutions such as: American Institute of Architects – LA chapter, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Dwell, The Getty Research Institute and many, many others, the John Lautner Foundation will launch The John Lautner Turns 100 Celebration. The kick off begins this Saturday the 16th through November 13th starting with the city of Los Angeles proclaiming July 16th as John Lautner day. In addition, LACMA will have the opening of the Lautner exhibit as well as talks and panel discussions on his work followed by a special birthday reception to commemorate the official day.
More note worthy events happen next weekend: On Saturday July 23rd, in various locations through out LA, The Lautner 100th Birthday Home Tour, co-presented with the MAK Center for Art and Architecture at the Schindler House, will allow the public to view and have behind-the-scenes access to four of Lautner’s most important Los Angeles homes: Harpel House (1956), Jacobsen House (1947), Schwimmer House (1982), and Sheats/Goldstein House (1963). And on Sunday the 24th The Lautner GALA, co-presented with Dwell, will be held at the Harpel House beginning with an intimate tour of the home followed by cocktails with Hors d’Oeuveres and awards.
Two highly recognizable homes created by Lautner are the Segal House in Malibu, once owned by actress Courtney Cox with then husband, David Arquette, and the Chemosphere home. Chemosphere was built in 1960. Two years later the animated series The Jetsons first aired. Without question, The Jetson’s iconic eight-sided home was taken directly from Chemosphere’s design. Later, the house was featured in Brian De Palma’s movie Body Double.
Working in real estate in Los Angeles, I get to see and experience these gems first hand when they happen to come on the market. In my own neighborhood of Beachwood Canyon, Lautner redesigned our local market’s (The Beachwood Market) façade to include floor to ceiling glass to allow the shoppers to see the Hollywood sign.
Lautner’s trademark was to carefully take into consideration the home or building’s surroundings and use materials and design that would enhance the site’s environment, known as Organic Architecture, a term coined by Wright. At the same time Lautner challenged all conventional ways of looking at and designing a project. Lautner blurred the lines of architecture and sculpture, demanding the viewer to question whether they were experiencing a home or art. Through Lautner’s design, Angelenos learned to become more aware of their surroundings and perhaps themselves. And like Lautner, Angelenos learned to trail blaze with their own ideas enough to make the world take notice.