Known for his extensive documentation of Mid-Century Modern architecture and urban development in Los Angeles and beyond, American photographer Julius Shulman captured the idyllic spirit of the post-war building-boom era in his photographs of modern domesticity. Shulman fostered relationships with a number of Modernist architects, notably California’s Richard Neutra, John Lautner, R M Schindler and Gregory Ain. His photos of their projects present both architectural features and the behaviour of their inhabitants. These images helped to shape the appearance of the Southern Californian lifestyle during the 1950s and 1960s, which spread to the rest of the country and the world. Something Curated highlights five inspiring Modernist interiors shot by the late photographer.
Frey Residence, Palm Springs, California || Albert Frey (Photographed in 1956)
A disciple of Swiss-French architect Le Corbusier, Albert Frey moved to Palm Springs in 1934 and built his own house in the desert city in 1941. Shulman photographed Frey’s home throughout the progressive stages of its development, which included the addition of a spacious living-sleeping area and a solarium, a swimming pool outside, and a garden pool within to the original three-room base structure.
Woods Residence (The Dome House), Cave Creek, Arizona || Soleri and Mills (Photographed in 1950)
The Dome House is named after its aluminium and glass hemispherical covering, which brought architects Paolo Soleri and Mark Mills wide recognition for incorporating passive principles in heating and cooling. The influence of their mentor Frank Lloyd Wright can be seen in the use of boulders and concrete, with the most extraordinary structure housing the bedroom.
Residence, Los Angeles, California || William Alexander (Photographed in 1952)
This 1,200-square-foot hillside house was designed as a single studio for living and working. A large storage wall with perforated doors housed the television, books, paintings and sculpture, while plywood floors were covered in cork, and heat was provided by a screened fire bowl in an iron tripod with a copper hood.
Spring Hotel, Bequia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines || Crites & McConnell (Photographed in 1967)
A nine-room hotel on a former plantation in the Caribbean, “this project is oriented primarily to views which reveal the splendour of the site and the interplay of interiors and exteriors”, Shulman explained. “The native stone walls serve to buffer the extensive use of native wood.”
Greenberg Residence, Palos Verdes, California || Buff & Hensman (Photographed in 1966)
Conrad Buff and Donald Hensman were architects who built houses for the likes of Steve McQueen and Saul Bass, the latter pioneering in its creation of different zones: work, formal and family. The Pasadena-based firm was born out of pragmatism. As gifted undergraduate students at USC’s School of Architecture, Buff and Hensman were already designing hundreds of affordable tract homes for a prominent California builder before starting their own joint practice.
All images from Julius Shulman. Modernism Rediscovered (Courtesy Taschen)