Category Archives: Modern Film

American Psycho, Foreign Collector

Patrick Bateman's living room in "American Psycho."

I was inspired by Flavorwire’s recent article titled, 15 Apartments on Film That We Wished We Owned, written by Colette McIntyre.  It covered some of my favorite apartments and homes in movies as well, and I could happily write a post for each one of them (and who knows, I may!), but the first one I thought I would tackle is “Patrick Bateman’s minimalist bachelor pad,” as Ms. McIntyre called it, in American Psycho from 2000.

A view of Patrick Bateman's living room from the other direction.

When it’s not covered in plastic sheeting …(yikes!) we get to see the furniture, from all over the world, that makes up his house.  To the left of his sliding glass doors, we see a chair from Charles Rennie Mackintosh’s Hill House, in Helensburgh, Scotland.

The Hill House chair, 1904, in its original setting of The Hill House master bedroom.

I love the contrast between the master bedroom of The Hill House, with its stenciled walls, and stylized floral motifs, and Patrick Bateman’s cold, plain, white living room.  It shows what an iconic piece the Hill House chair really is; it can stand alone as a piece of design.

The two black leather side chairs and matching ottomans were designed by Ludwig Mies van der Rohe in 1929 for the German Pavilion for the International Exposition in Barcelona, Spain.  The Barcelona chair’s original aesthetic matches much more closely the aethetic of Patrick Bateman, but they were still seen in a much warmer environment, with golden marble and rich woods.

The Barcelona chairs and ottomans in situ, 1929.

The third piece of famous design in Bateman’s living room is the coffee table.  It was designed by Italian designer, Paolo Piva, c. 1980 for B&B Italia, and is called the Alana coffee table.  From what I’ve been able to find, Piva seems to give his pieces human names.  He was born in 1950, and his designs were most popular in the 1980s.  The time in which he was designing is especially interesting in relation to American Psycho, because while the movie was made in 2000, it was set in the 1980s.

Alana coffee table, c. 1980 by Paolo Piva.

Bateman’s furniture tastes cover many countries and many time periods, but it is the Alana coffee table that would have been brand new when he purchased it.

Gideon Ponte was the production designer for American Psycho and Jeanne Develle, the set decorator.  The American 1980s is not my area of expertise in decorative arts, and I wonder if the Hill House chair and Barcelona chairs would have been readily available for purchase at the time, and also if they would have been seen as the status symbols that they are now, and as I’m sure Patrick Bateman meant for them to be.



Filed under Double Takes, Modern Film

Great Gatsby Movie Mansions Help to Preserve Architecture, “Ceaselessly into the Past”

Yesterday, the mansion that likely inspired F. Scott Fitzgerald to write The Great Gatsby, in 1925, was demolished.  The possibility of demolition has had journalists and bloggers talking for a few months now.

Lands End in a recent photo shows the home in its condemned state.

The mansion was in Sands Point, New York, along Long Island’s Gold Cost.  It was called Lands End, and it was built in 1902 by architect Stanford White for the executive editor of the New York World newspaper, Herbert Bayard Swope.  News of the possible demolition was featured on the Today Show on March9.  It was first brought to my attention on March 12 on a fellow blogger’s website, Cinema Style, where the forthcoming Baz Luhrmann version of The Great Gatsby was discussed.  It was reported today on the CBS show, Sunday Morning, that it had been demolished.

A view of Lands End in better days.

Even though the look and location of this house may have inspired F. Scott Fitzgerald, it was not used in the 1974 film starring Robert Redford and Mia Farrow, as Jay Gatsby and Daisy Buchanan.  Lands End would have served as inspiration for Tom and Daisy Buchanan’s house on East Egg, where the “old money” lived.

Rosecliff mansion of Newport, Rhode Island.

However, the house that was chosen for the film as Jay Gatsby’s mansion, was Rosecliff, a mansion commissioned by Nevada silver heiress Theresa Fair Oelrichs, was completed in 1902 by architect Stanford White.

This is surely no coincidence, being built in the same year and by the same architect as Lands End.  But, I do wonder why the production designer, John Box, of the 1974 film chose not to, or was unable to use Lands End.   Another oddity is that while Lands End was in “East Egg,” Jay Gatsby lived in the nouveau riche “West Egg.”  Somehow, I think, the house chosen to portray Gatsby’s mansion would have been an even better replica of the Buchanan mansion.

Heatherden Hall in England became the Buchanan mansion in the 1974 movie.

The location for filming of the Buchanan House, in the 1974 movie, was actually in England at Heatherden Hall.

Beacon Towers built by architect Richard Howland Hunt, 1918.

The mansion thought to have been the inspiration for Jay Gatsby’s abode, was Beacon Towers.  Built for Alva Vanderbilt Belmont by architect Richard Howland Hunt in around 1918.  Richard Howland Hunt was the eldest son of Richard Morris Hunt , who had completed the Biltmore Estate for the Vanderbilt family in 1895.

Richard Morris Hunt is one of the most important architects in American architectural history.  He was the first American to attend the École des Beaux-Arts in Paris, and brought back with him its sensibility.  Though much older than Stanford White, both men were designing the gilded mansions of the elite along the coasts of New York and Rhode Island – a tradition which also carried on into the next generation, as evidenced by Richard Howland Hunt building Beacon Towers.

Hammersmith Farm of Newport, Rhode Island was used in 1974 as Jay Gatsbys mansion.

In the 1974 Great Gatsby movie, two mansions were used to portray Gatsby’s mansion.  In addition to Rosecliff, Hammersmith Farm was used, and to me seems a much better recreation of Beacon Towers.

Hammersmith Farm, by architect Robert Henderson Robertson, 1887.

Hammersmith Farm was built in 1887 for John W. Auchincloss, by architect Robert H. Robertson.  Auchincloss, as it would turn out, was the the great-grandfather of Jacqueline Kennedy’s stepfather, Hugh D. Auchincloss; and Hammersmith Farm was Jacqueline Kennedy’s childhood home.  It was later the location of the Kennedy’s wedding reception and their summer house while JFK was President.

Robert Redford, as the Great Gatsby in the 1974 movie at his West Egg mansion.

While we are still granted the presence of Rosecliff, Heatherden Hall and Hammersmith Farm, Fitzgerald’s original inspirations have been lost.  Both Beacon Towers and Lands End have been demolished, in 1945 and 2011, respectively.  And I can’t help but wonder if – or hope – that perhaps the 1974 movie helped to raise the importance or value or, at the very least, the recognizability of the mansions used as its sets.

Satellite view of Beacon Towers and Lands End in Sands Point, New York. (Before the demolition of Lands End.)

With the satellite view above, one can see just how perfectly Beacon Towers and Lands End were situated to inspire Jay Gatsby’s longing views of Daisy Buchanan’s pier with the green light on it.

Taking that famous last line of the book, that all the journalist and bloggers have reminded us of over the past few months, “So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past,” let us hope that future movies help to preserve historic architecture, by casting them as characters, as those were in the 1974 movie as the mansions of East and West Egg.

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The Dragon Tattoo and Swedish Wallpaper

When this film started, I had no way of knowing how much I would get wrapped up in it!  (I had a similar experience with the book too.)  The story is excellent, the acting is amazing, but it was the interesting British and Swedish decorative arts and parallels to Alfred Hitchcock’s Vertigo (one of my favorite things to talk about) that made me into a full-on fanatic about this movie.

First, let’s start with the decorative arts.  This movie is filled with design.  (Oh, and I just want to say that I’m not going to spoil anything …the story is too good for me to deprive anyone of that suspense!)  The story revolves around a wealthy Swedish family, the Vangers, so of course they live in some fabulous buildings.  The family’s main home, is so grand and austere, you would think they were royalty.

Erstaviks castle in Nacka Municipality, Sweden, that played the part of the Vanger family home.

When we are introduced to the Vanger son’s home we get a glimpse of modern design.  Martin Vanger’s home was supposed to have been built in 1979, and is unlike any other space we visit in the movie.

Martin Vanger's house

The plot centers around a journalist who is brought in to investigate a long unsolved the murder of one of the Vanger children, Harriet Vanger.  His investigation begins as he is hired by the patriarch of the family, Henrik Vanger.  Henrik received a framed pressed flower every year for his birthday, just as Harriet had given him, every year, when she was alive.

Every year for his birthday, Henrik receives a pressed flower in a frame. Uhh ...he's pretty old.

While researching the family and unsolved crime, the journalist, Mikael Blomqkist, stays on the family estate in a small cabin, down the road from Martin Vanger.  It is here that we see some historic designs.  The wallpaper in this cabin is by the Swedish (born Austrian) architect and designer, named Josef Frank (1885-1967).  Frank’s work in architecture, and especially in furniture, textile and wallpaper design had a profound impact on the Swedish Style of the mid 20th century.  But this so-called Swedish style did not begin with Frank.  It  began around the time of his birth in the 1880s with William Morris (1834-1896) in England. As William Morris shaped the public taste of Victorian England, he influenced a movement that was spreading across all of Europe.  The Arts and Crafts Movement stressed the importance of handmade craftsmanship and an appreciation for nature.  (To sum up the movement in far too few words!)  These beliefs can be clearly scene in his wallpaper.  Creating in the traditional style, William Morris’ wallpapers were made from vegetable dyes and used the hand woodblock technique.

William Morris' "Daisy" wallpaper, 1864

William Morris and the British Arts and Crafts Movement directly influenced the Swedish painter and interior designer, Carl Larsson (1853-1919).  He, in following Morris (he was 20 years Morris’ junior), created an artistic house.  Larsson and his wife, Karin, filled their home with their artistic touches.  Where previously only the “fine arts,” painting and sculpture, would have been used to decorate a house, they painted and decorated walls, furniture and textiles.  The Larssons also documented their entire house in the book, Ett hem, published in 1899.  Their use of Swedish folklore and their belief in the beauty of nature can be seen in every print Larsson put into the book.

"In the Corner" by Carl Larsson, 1894 and published in Ett hem, this is a view of the drawing room. Notice the hand painted stove to the right. It is covered in botanical prints, similar to Morris' "Daisy" pattern wallpaper. (This artwork is now at The National Museum Sweden.)

With the publishing of this book, and the introduction of his style and views on home life to the Swedish people, Larsson helped to create a modern Swedish style.  (I do also need to point out Larsson’s debt to the English illustrator Kate Greenaway and her depiction of English childhood surrounded by Queen Anne architecture.)

Here is another view of the stove in the drawing room, with painter, carpenter and Carl Larsson himself in the mirror.

Okay, okay, back to the movie!!  So, with that brief history of Morris and Larsson in mind, imagine my excitement, when Blomkvist walks into his cabin and we see a view of the paper covering the walls.

Josef Frank wallpaper in Blomkvist's cabin

Josef Frank would have been familiar with Larsson and Morris’ work.  And as a last generation of the Arts and Crafts Movement, he held on to the love of brightly colored, stylized natural motifs and it shines here brightly in his botanical print wallpaper with a print called Vårklockor.

Josef Frank's wallpaper pattern, Vårklockor, from the 1940s. It was manufactured by the Norrköping Wallpaper Factory.

This is such an interesting choice to me.    In reconciling the design against the movie’s plot, it is curious that the wallpaper put up in a Vanger cabin was designed by Josef Frank, a man of Jewish descent.  (Part of the story behind the Vanger family is its involvement with the Nazi party …and I’ll leave it at that.  Like I said, I don’t want any spoilers!)

Another view of Blomkvist's cabin, with Josef Frank's wallpaper.

There is another scene in which we see this wallpaper, but this time it has a dark background.  Also, the bench in this scene caught my eye.

Once again we see Frank's Vårklockor pattern, along side an Eastlake style bench.

Up close, as seen below, the wallpaper is very vibrant.  But,  I like the aged look it has in the film.  Still, the pattern is distinct, and it is certainly Josef Frank’s design.

Josef Frank's Vårklockor pattern wallpaper with a black background.

The bench, in the picture above, where Lisbeth Salander is seated, will again take us back to England.  And, I can’t imagine how I made it this far into my story without mentioning Lisbeth!  She is a fantastic heroine, and I think one of my favorites.  Curiously enough, one of Carl Larsson’s daughters was named Lisbeth, and is featured in the prints of Ett hem.  ( I love little coincidences like that.)  I can’t say for certain whether the bench is Swedish or English, but it definitely finds its provenance in England.  As part of the firm, Morris, Marshall, Faulkner & Co., designer and architect, Philip Webb (1831-1915), created the Morris Adjustable Chair in 1866.

The "Morris Adjustable Chair" from Morris, Marshall, Faulkner & Co., by Philip Webb, 1866.

Notice the similarity in the chair rail, arms and legs of the Morris Adjustable Chair to the bench Lisbeth sits on …and yet there are differences.  The bench takes its slimmer silhouette from the Firm’s Sussex line.

The Firm's Sussex chair line, designed 1865.

Yet, that still doesn’t quite cover it.  I think the bench we see in the movie was very much influenced by Charles Eastlake (1836-1906).  And his influence too would have been felt by Carl Larsson.  Eastlake, an English architect and designer was William Morris’ contemporary.  His book, Hints on Household Taste, published in Great Britain in 1868, presented the idea that the decor of a home should have a continuity in style.  His ideas not only help spread the word of the Arts and Crafts Movement, but it would have influenced Larsson in the decorating of his family home too.

This is an American example of the Charles Eastlake style, and I think a very close look-alike to the bench in the film. (Circa 1880 from D. Dexter's Sons, it is now a part of the Brooklyn Museum's collection.)

Finally, the parallels to Alfred Hitchcock’s Vertigo gave me chills!  Not in a, “oh I’ve already seen this but it’s still great” kind of way, but in a way where new life was brought into a mystery and love story so dark, it chills you to your core beliefs.  Henrik Vanger bears a resemblance to Jimmy Stewart’s main character in Vertigo, Scottie Ferguson.  And just like Scottie, Henrik finds himself so entranced with a dead woman, his niece, that he has put his life on hold trying to find her and bring her back to life.  It is the botanical prints that he loved so dearly as a gift from Harriet that now haunt him on a yearly basis …and also offers the production designers of this movie a brilliant reason to incorporate such historically charged botanical wallpaper into the set design.

There is a necklace that plays a role in the story of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, and while it is not as central to the story as the necklace in Vertigo is, it is still a game changer.  The necklace Cecelia (Henrik’s niece) is wearing at one point is the same necklace that Harriet is wearing in a photograph, this brings back Michael’s memory, just as Carlotta’s necklace brings back Scottie’s.  Michael is reminded of his childhood, when his nanny was the same Harriet Vanger that he is now searching for, and two women’s identities are woven together into one.


The Arts & Crafts Companion, Pamela Todd, Bulfinch Press, 2004

Carl and Karin Larsson: Creators of the Swedish Style, Michael Snodin and Elisabet Stavenow-Hidemark, Bulfinch Press, 1997


Filed under Foreign Film, In the Cinema, Modern Film

2011 Academy Awards – Art Direction

In one week, The Academy Awards will be airing on ABC.  Over the course of the evening,  fashions will be discussed and awards for acting will be handed out, but my favorite part will be finding out who will win for Art Direction.  The following are the 2011 nominees for that Oscar.

Alice in Wonderland
My first thought is that this is an odd choice, as I would have thought most of the sets were added in digitally.  But, that poses an interesting question, because whether the set is real or digital, someone still has to decide how it looks.  If a Queen Anne chair or Regency bench is chosen from an antique store or recreated in a virtual world, the designer still has to recognize the necessity of it and know where to place it.

Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland as created by Robert Stromberg, Production Design and Karen O'Hara, Set Decoration

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part I
I’m not even sure I can choose one image to represent the Harry Potter series’ interiors.  I don’t know what I love more, Dumbledore’s office, the Griffindor Common Room, or the Weasley’s house, The Burrow.  What I do know is that there should be a religion named after Stuart Craig.  He has been nominated for his work in Harry Potter since the first movie.

...well, have you guessed my favorite? David Yates' (and J.K. Rowling's) The Burrow, as created by Stuart Craig, Production Designer and Stephenie McMillan, Set Decorator

If you happen to have read my post called, The Architects of Simplicity, then you’ll know who I want to win in this category.  Magnificent sets.  Both real and virtual.

Christopher Nolan's dream world of Inception as created by Guy Hendrix Dyas, Production Design and Set Decoration by Larry Dias and Doug Mowat (Photo by Melissa Moseley)

The King’s Speech
This is a movie I will look at more closely in a forthcoming post.  The royal palaces had to be historically accurate and the background often blended out of focus as the attention was placed, rightly so, on Colin Firth as King George VI and Geoffrey Rush as Lionel Logue.  All this was done with impressive ease.

Tom Hooper's The King's Speech, as created by Eve Stewart, Production Design and Judy Farr, Set Decoration

True Grit
I must confess, this is the final box to tick on my “Oscar movies to see list” and I’ll be seeing it this week!  But, while a lot of this movie appears to take place outside, if Joel and Ethan Coen’s past movies are any indication, their sets always have as much personality as their characters.  I will hopefully have more details to report soon, full of great Western Frontier interiors!

The Coen brothers' True Grit as imagined by Jess Gonchor, Production Design and Nancy Haigh, Set Decoration

I’ll be watching (and tweeting the results!) next Sunday, February 27.

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Talk to Her …and sit in this chair.

Here’s a quick one.  After writing a previous post on Pedro Almodóvar, I decided I needed to see all his films.  My latest one is Talk to Her (Hable con ella), and just like the others before it I was intrigued, amazed, shocked and delighted.  His story telling, the look of the film and his actors are all superb.  So, it was truly an added bonus to see another famous chair in this movie.

View of Alicia's father's office.

This chair was designed by Charles and Ray Eames in 1956 for the Herman Miller furniture company.

Eames Lounge (670) and Ottoman (671), 1956

And now that I’ve noticed this chair once, I must notice it somewhere at least once a week.  It’s in movies, on TV, in print advertisements.  It even appeared in a Cole Haan ad on the side bar of my email.

Advertisement for Cole Haan featuring the Eames Lounge chair

You might also notice a famous table in the scene from Talk to Her.  It is Eileen Gray’s chromed steel side table from 1927.  Built for the E 1027 house in the South of France, these tables were likely inspired by the chromed tubular steel furniture of the Bauhaus.

Side table designed by Eileen Gray in 1927 for her E 1027 house (built between 1926 and 1929). It was originally meant to be a bedside table.

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The Brothers Bloom meets The Bauhaus

About two months ago I saw a great movie called The Brothers Bloom and of course, out of no where, BOOM!, design.  I was happy to spot a dining table surrounded by Bauhaus style chairs.

The dining table and chairs in the movie

My first thoughts turned to Marcel Breuer.  The design of the dining room chairs reminded me of his Wassily chair.

As a student and a teacher at The Bauhaus in Germany in the 1920s Breuer helped to invent tubular steel furniture.  His most famous and well-recognized piece is the Wassily Chair, originally named the Type B3 Steel Club Chair.  The chair was later named for Wassily Kandinsky, who admired the chair and had one made for his own home, by the designer and fellow Bauhaus artist, Breuer.

And while the chair is most often seen in black leather, I’ve shown it here in white because it is most similar to the chairs seen in the movie.

Director's style chair, (This is a modern interpretation.)

But, after more investigation and reading, I learned about Mart Stam, a Dutch Bauhhous designer from the same time as Marcel Breuer.  From what I have found, they both developed tubular steel chairs around the same time period, but it seems Breuer usually gets the credit.

And since The Brothers Bloom was all about the underdog or the over-looked getting his due credit, I’m going to give Stam the credit on this one.

Mart Stam's cantilever chairs

Even as exact replicas of his Cantilever Chai S34 are sold today, they are billed as Breuer style chairs.  (See the cream colored Director’s Chair above – it’s sold as a “Breuer Director Style Chair.”)  To be fair, Stam and Breuer’s chairs are VERY similar.

Marcel Breuer's cantilever chair

So can we agree to disagree?  I say Stam.  But they are from the same school: Bauhaus, and they are from the same time period: the late 1920s.  Maybe they helped each other?  The difference seems to me, to be in the arm rests.

Another piece of furniture I noticed in that flash of a dining room scene was the table.  Not that I recognized it, but I had to look into it after the chairs revealed so much.  I could very easily be wrong here, but I’m going to guess this table is from Design Within Reach.

Dining room table "inspired by" Marcel Breuer

DWR describes the table on their website as having, “the angular beauty of …the strict architecture of Marcel Breuer’s seminal work and the clean geometry of Le Corbusier’s ‘equipment for living.'”  I mean, it is a movie set after all and they probably are using modern reproductions, so I’m just going to go with the flow and say this isn’t a piece of historical design, but a modern one that works beautifully.

Even if it is only on screen for 17 seconds.


Filed under Double Takes, Modern Film

Sleepless in Seattle & the vague term of Egg Chair

I remember watching Sleepless in Seattle when it came out in 1993 and thinking Jonah had the coolest chair I’d ever seen – and that was it.

The chair in Jonah's bedroom in the movie

But now, watching it again as an adult and as a follower of design, I had to find out more about it.

Jonah's egg chair

I started by researching “egg chairs” and soon discovered that term opened up a whole can of worms, or, rather, a whole timeline of chairs!  His chair is the most recent in a long design lineage of chairs.  Jonah’s chair, originally known as the Alpha Stereo Chair, was designed by Lee West (dates unknown) and was made for Krypton Furniture.  It is now called the ModPod Egg Chair and they can now be purchased from a company called inmod.

Inmod's Mod Pod Egg Chair

But the story behind this “egg chair,” I think, begins in 1957, with Arne Jacobsen’s design of the first named Egg Chair.

Arne Jacobsen's Egg Chair, 1957 (This picture is of Design Within Reach's reproduction.)

Jonah’s egg chair has arm rests that are reminiscent of an Eames design.

The Eames' Molded Plastic Armchair, 1948 (This picture is of DWR's modern reproduction.)

Also from 1948, and also featuring a similar arm rest design is the Womb chair, designed by Eero Saarinen.

Eero Saarinen's Womb chair, 1948 (This picture is of DWR's modern reproduction.)

The final design component I noticed on Jonah’s chair was the base.  This great swivelling base that makes the whole scene in the movie as he and Jessica spin the chair around using only the tips of their toes that touch the ground.  This base must have been inspired by Eero Saarinen as well, in his Tulip Armchair from 1956.

Eero Saarinen's Tulip chair, 1956 (This picture is of DWR's modern reproduction.)

And finally, there is another egg chair …not like Jonah’s and not like the original by Jacobsen, but one from 1968 designed by Henrik Thor-Larsen.  It was first shown at a Scandinavian furniture fair in 1968 and became a quick classic – and let’s face it, shape-wise, it is the most deserving of the name, Egg Chair.

The Ovalia Egg Chair, 1968 (These are modern reproductions.)

The chair was manufactured from 1968 to 1978 and has been so popular that the company re-released it in 2008.

The egg chair, not to be confused with the ball or globe chair, by Eero Aarnio from the early 1960s, is a term that encompasses more chair history than I would have ever thought of in 1993 when I just wanted Jonah’s cool chair.

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Vampires Have Style

Here’s the entry I didn’t think I would ever do.  And then once I saw the movie and spotted famous designs, I spent as much time as possible avoiding writing this entry.  But, I can’t deny that the Cullen’s house in Twilight is rather magnificent.  And Edward’s room, in particular, caught my eye.

The Cullen's house, Forks, Washington

The house used as the Cullen’s home was designed by architect Jeff Kovel and is actually the Hoke Residence (2007) in Portland, Oregon.  But I think Christopher Brown (who has also worked on Mad Men) and Ian Phillips, the movie’s art directors and  Gene Serdena, the movie’s set decorator, are to be credited with designing Edward Cullen’s cultured bedroom.  Remember, Edward Cullen is 109 years old, so if anyone would know good design …I’m just saying he’s had time to work out the kinks in his personal style.

Edward Cullen's bedroom

As everyone knows, vampires don’t sleep.  But who am I to question their necessity of a daybed, especially when it is the iconic daybed designed by Ludwig Mies van der Rohe.

Barcelona couch designed by Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, 1930

This classic piece of furniture has an interesting background.  In 1929, Mies van der Rohe designed the German Pavilion for the International Exposition of that same year in Barcelona, Spain.  It was for this pavilion that he designed chairs and stools, creating the Barcelona collection.

The Barcelona Pavilion and the aptly named Barcelona chairs and stools

The accompaning daybed/couch was designed in 1930 for use in Philip Johnson’s apartment at 424 East 52nd Street, New York overlooking the Museum of Modern Art’s garden.  And it was not until 1931, at the Berlin Bau-Austellung, or the German Building Exhibition, in Berlin, Germany that this piece of furniture was seen by the public.  Featured in an exhibit called “The Dwelling of Our Time,” the couch was featured in Mies van der Rohe’s Apartment for a Bachelor.

The daybed has also been photographed in The Farnsworth House (1945-1951) in Plano, Illinois and Philip Johnson’s Glass House (1949) in New Canaan, Connecticut.  Mies van der Rohe sold the design to Knoll in 1953 and it is still made by that company today.

Living room in Ludwig Mies van der Rohe's Farnsworth House, 1951, with the Barcelona chairs and couch displayed

Living room in Philip Johnson's Glass House, 1949, with the Barcelona chairs, stool and couch displayed

Besides liking a piece of furniture that had been displayed in a bachelor pad exhibit, I think that I could see the 109-year-old unattached Edward Cullen adhering to Mies van der Rohe’s maxim of “less is more.”  (I can’t believe I just said that.)

Another view of Edward Cullen's bedroom reveals more design objects

Other famous furniture in Edward Cullen’s room includes his desk chair.  It is an Eames Molded Plywood Dining Chair, or in his case, a desk chair.

Eames Molded Plywood Dining Table and Chairs set

Charles and Ray Eames designed this ergonomical chair in 1946, making it a fairly ironic chair for a vampire to use.  It’s not like he’s going to have a stiff back or sore shoulders, is it? It has been sold since 1946, as it is sold now, by Herman Miller.  This influential design couple met when they were both adult students at Cranbrook Academy of Art in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan in 1940.  By 1942 they had moved to Los Angeles California and went on to design furniture, architecture and create films together.  They were both proponents of modern design and major influences on Modern Architecture.

According to the Herman Miller website, in 1999, the Eames Molded Plywood Chair was named by Time Magazine to be The Best Design of the 20th Century.  They playfully mention that the locomotive came in second.

It is interesting to note that in the early 1940s, Charles Eames was a set architect for MGM Studios. And he is noted, by the Design Museum, as having worked on Mrs. Miniver.

Edward Cullen’s room, while, I would venture to say, is nothing like a regular teenage boy’s room, it may be our first glimpse of an average vampire posing-as-a-teenager-but-who-in-reality-is-over-a-century-old’s room.  Minimalist in decoration, a little messy and filled with icons of design he’s collected over the years.


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It’s no coincidence that when I saw this movie I was instantly taken by Peter Colt’s parents’ house.  I had just moved back to the US from the UK where I spent a year travelling around with my graduate school class studying residential architecture and interiors.

Peter Colt's parents house in the movie Wimbledon is actually Norney, Shackleford, Surrey, 1897 by Charles Francis Annesley Voysey

We had even made a trip to see Broadleys (1898)  on Lake Windermere in Cumbria.  And except that Broadleys in on the water, the two houses – Broadleys and the Colt’s home in the movie – are quite similar.

Broadleys, Bowness-on-Windermere, Cumbria, 1898

It was a house called Norney, by C.F.A. Voysey, that was used in the movie Wimbledon as the main character, Peter Colt’s, parents’ home.  I think that’s what I love about Voysey’s houses; they always feel like a parents’ home to me.  The warmth of the wood, the organic feel of the interior design and the way they appear to have grown over time, as the family has, makes them welcoming and comfortable.  Yet, at the same time, their use of vernacular architectural details and their sheer size give them a regal quality that their often used title of ‘cottage’ usually doesn’t cover.

Norney's facade as seen in Wimbledon

According to the English Heritage website, Norney was built for Reverend Leighton Crane.  The round window, seen in the picture above, was often seen in Voysey’s architecture.

Exterior of Norney near the rear garden as seen in the movie

At Broadleys, large bands of glazing jut out from the house in bay windows, a design feature also seen at Norney

C.F.A. Voysey was an English architect, textile designer and furniture designer during the Arts and Crafts period.  And though his designs followed the simple country look of the Movement, using the English vernacular style of the 17th century, he is still considered a pioneer of Modern Architecture.  Though, that distinction comes from those whom he influenced and was not his intention.

Broadleys lock detail

Voysey paid very close attention to detail – he designed the furniture for his houses – and even the lock designs as seen in the example above from Broadleys.  Other similarities I noticed between Broadleys and Norsey, while watching Wimbledon, included the upstairs hallway and the staircase.

Upstairs hallway at Broadleys

Upstairs hallway of Norney as seen in Wimbledon

Both hallways feature a balcony where one can look over the room below.  They also both have rounded doorways and slanted ceilings or walls that make sure you know you’re upstairs and just below the line of the roof.  I associate upstairs ceilings that slant with small cottages and it is with details like this that Voysey is able to give these substantial homes the feel of a small cottage.

The staircase at Broadleys

The staircase at Norney with Carl and Peter Colt (James McAvoy and Paul Bettany) in the movie Wimbledon

While you can see that the layout of Broadleys and Norney are mirror images of each other, their similarities are striking.  They are after all both created with the architectural language of Voysey.  Both staircases feature flat and closely spaced rails.  They also both have wood panelled walls and a highly placed windows in the stairwell that lives in an area between the two floors, not really belonging to either one.  Unfortunately, during my trip to Broadleys, I did not find James McAvoy on the staircase.  But it wasn’t a total loss because I loved my time spent there and it helped me to instantly recognize the house of Peter Colt’s family as a piece of Voysey architecture.


Filed under Modern Film