Tag Archives: Mies van der Rohe

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.

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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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