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Richard Neutra

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Neutra was born in Vienna in 1892 and studied both engineering and art as well as architecture and became an excellent draughtsman, skills which stood him in good stead when he emigrated to America in 1923. There he settled in Los Angeles as Hollywood and the film industry boomed. He executed commissions of over 300 private homes and for many of these projects he designed the interiors and the furniture as well.

Neutra was fortunate enough to have been born into an intellectual Viennese family whose circle included artists and designers of the time, such as Adolf Loos and Erich Mendelsohn who later moved to England. He was clearly influenced by early Bauhaus designs and philosophies but, in America, developed his own design language which has lasted as very “modern” right up to today. Not surprisingly, therefore, his house designs are still used as modern or futuristic film sets and more than any other designer, he embodies the spirit of American Modernism. Indeed, in 1932, he was the only West Coast architect to be included in the New York Museum of Modern Art’s exhibition “Modern Architecture” which celebrated the new American style united with European design which became known as “The International Style.”

Richard Neutra lived long enough to work through the great Hollywood days, the post war modern era, the early Rock & Roll years and the swinging 60s but his work really remains timeless and it is a great honour for his furniture to be on show and for sale at the Home.

His furniture designs were originally not intended for commercial production but made as individual pieces for specific projects. Neutra’s son has now collaborated with a European furniture maker to produce to a very high quality standard and using the best and most appropriate materials these designs.

Made for Lovell Health House, the “Lovell” easy chair was originally designed with a chromed tubular steel frame and wooden arms and, later, the frame was made entirely of wood. This chair is now being produced in its original following the drawings that Richard Neutra made in 1928 and which are now housed in the University of California, Los Angeles archives. With its matching footstool, this must surely be one of the most comfortable and relaxing chairs in the world.

The “Boomerang” chair was designed for the Branch House in 1942 and somewhat ahead of his time, Neutra’s idea was to prepare blueprints for people to make their own furniture out of off-cuts of wood and other bits of building materials.

Neutra’s Cantilever Chair” was patented in 1936 and differs from other cantilever designs of the time with its distinctive steel band spring which gives the chair a more robust and solid feel without compromising the natural flex needed for comfort.

In 1970 Neutral died of a heart attack in Wuppertal, Germany whilst on a lecture tour of Europe and where he was working on what turned out to be his final project – the Kemper Haus.
 

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