Kaufmann House

My last post about J. Crew using Kaufmann House in Palm Springs as a backdrop for their latest catalog shoot had me going back for more. Designed in 1946 by Richard Neutra, it is a wonderful example of mid-century modern architecture.

The house was commissioned by Edgar J. Kaufmann Sr. who also commissioned Frank Lloyd Wright to build Fallingwater. It's interesting how both homes clearly embrace their environment and blur the line of indoors and out.

Both homes employ glass corners so as not to obstruct the views and horizontal stone walls, but were designed by different architects 10 years apart. Therefore, one has to wonder how much influence the Kaufmann's had on the designs.

According to The New York Times, "Neutra was known for catering sensitively to the needs of his clients, so that their houses would be not only functional but would also nurture their owners psychologically." So maybe the Kaufmann's were influential in the design.

"The house stood vacant for several years after Kaufmann's death in 1955. Then it went through a series of owners, including the singer Barry Manilow, and a series of renovations. A patio was enclosed, one wall was broken through for the addition of a media room, the sleek roof lines were interrupted with air-conditioning units, and some bedrooms were wallpapered in delicate floral prints."

"After purchasing the house and its more than an acre of land for about $1.5 million, the new owners removed the extra appendages and enlisted the architects Leo Marmol and Ron Radziner.They sought out the original providers of paint and fixtures and even reopened a long-closed section of a Utah quarry to mine matching replacement stones."

The new owners also bought several adjoining plots to more than double the land around the 3,200-square-foot house, restoring the desert buffer that Neutra envisioned.

Kaufmann House was just one Palm Springs home made famous by photographer Julius Shulman and will be part of 150 photographs of structures by architects such as Richard Neutra, John Lautner, A. Quincy Jones, Paul Williams, E. Stewart Williams, Albert Frey, William Cody, Donald Wexler and Palmer & Krisel, in the new exhibition Julius Shulman: Palm Springs that runs through May 4 at the Palm Springs Art Museum and also in the beautiful book by Rizzoli, Julius Shulman: Palm Springs.

But Julius Shulman wasn't the only famous photographer to shoot the famed Kaufmann House, Slim Aarons shot these two iconic photos of the home in 1970 and were obviously the inspiration for J. Crew. Oh, and don't forget that the house can be yours for approximately $25 million if you feel like bidding at Christie's on May 13. Bonne Chance!


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