Monday 9 February 2009

The Look of Architecture

The public rooms of Mies van der Rohe's Tugendhat House, 1928

Vintage Dior

Witold Rybczynski wrote a book from my book list "Home-a short history of an idea". It's one of my favorite books, and I really enjoy his writing style.

Over the weekend, and while away, I read a little book of his called "The Look of Architecture". It's a culmination of a series of public lectures by Mr. Rybczynski, on architecture, dress and decor in 1999. He talks about style as a language of architecture, and the profession's resistance to the word.

A couple of quotes were really profound to me:

1. Sir Henry Wotton (lived in Venice, not an architect, but a writer) wrote in 1642-

"The end is to build well. Well-building hath three conditions: Commodity, Firmness and Delight."

His writings were based on the writings of Vitruvius, and Rybczynski goes on to explain that architecture has three distinct purposes: to shelter human activity (commodity), gravity and the elements (firmness), and to be an object of beauty (delight).

Rybczynski writes "The dish must be at once nourishing (commodity), cookable (firmess), and of course, tasty (delight). (It should also look good, although the contemporary trend toward visually extravagant dishes seems to me an aberration). The art of cooking, like the art of architecture, lies in knowing how to establish the appropriate relations between the three conditions."

2. Paul Klee

"An artist can paint square wheels, but an architect must make them round".


"Architecture, interior decoration, and fashion design are three distinct fields, yet we experience them with the same eye. Whether we look at dress or decor, we bring the same visual bias, the same sensibility, the same taste. This sensibility is not constant. Sometimes we appreciate simplicity, sometimes complexity."


Remodeling Guy said...

I loved this post. Sincerely. I'm inspired. I will now go and look for an RSS feed and should I fail to find that, I will certainly bookmark your blog so I'm sure to come back. I think I should look around more too.
I have one word for your husband: Lucky Dog (I know, never said I could count)
I love flying and would have loved to be a professional pilot. Sometimes I think it's not to late, then I wake up!

Unknown said...

Gorgeous! Loving those books.

qerat said...

BEAUTIFUL post Michelle. I loved it and I will use Paul Klee's quote it is so so true.

pve design said...

great post. I have to ask for your address - Bailey is waiting for a walk to the post office!

Maria Killam said...

And a designer makes the wheels beautiful? Great post Michelle!

Unknown said...

I just noticed the beautiful wood panelling in the top photo of Tugendhat House again. I am more in love with it as time goes by. Good design and architecture is timeless!!
Great post Michelle.