Speaking about architect Philip Johnson’s iconic The Glass House, the celebrated New York interior designer Mariette Himes Gomez says, “I’ve never seen anything as perfect. The proportions, the scale, the absolute purity.” The house, which is said to have ushered in the International Style to residential America, was built by Johnson as part of his personal residence in the mid Forties.
On its completion in 1949 the house received enormous publicity, appearing in, among others, Life magazine. The house was lauded for its clever use of materials – the clear glass structure is supported by a steel frame and core cylinder acts as a fireplace while adding additional support and demarcating the interior space.
The house is famous for its uncompromising innovative glass ideal that “less is more”. It’s essentially an artistic representation of what it feels like to be stripped down and only possess what is absolutely necessary. Many who see it, may think they are gazing into a fishbowl, for those living inside it might create a feeling of danger – of being observed or caught doing something they shouldn’t be. In fact, it was created as a space where you could feel completely comfortable with yourself once inside, regardless of onlookers. “A room is only as good as you feel when you’re in it,” said Johnson .
Situated on a hill, surrounded by an immaculate lawn and forest, the symetrical, rectangular house seamlessly integrates into the landscape. In keeping with its minimalist nature, it has no windows, but when opening the glass doors, a cross breeze flows through the house.
The house is in sync with its environment and perfectly melts in with the background. It doesn’t look as if it’s an extension of the surroundings, it looks as if it was always there. “I always think of buildings in their settings, but so do other architects.”- Philip Johnson. He goes unto explaining that, ”All architecture is shelter, all great architecture is the design of space that contains, cuddles, exalts, or stimulates the persons in that space.”
When Philip’s dear friend Frank Stella visited The Glass House after Philip’s death in 2005, he stated that there were many criticisms surrounding the house such as, ”You really can’t live in that kitchen, or you or you can’t sleep in that bed.” Philip fully embraced living in The Glass House what everyone emphasised in Frank’s opinion, ”It’s livable, it’s just not livable for everyone.”
Philip Johnson was in a class all on his own. He’s an icon in his field having created a one-of-a-kind house that will continue to inspire everyone who lays eyes upon it.
Doesn’t seeing the beauty and abundance of glass make you want to add glass and your own artistic flare by incorporating decorative window decals to your own environment?