A Trip to Wonderland

By on 8 November, 2017 in Sandra Nickel with 0 Comments

Before embarking on my 36-year real estate career, I spent some time in the field of marketing and advertising. And it was during this time that I was introduced to and fell in love with the architecture variously identified as International Style, Minimalist and Modernist.

A failed architecture student turned graphic artist came to work at the company where I was employed. To protect his privacy, I will identify him only as Sid. Sid had studied both at Taliesen and Taliesen West under the tutelage of Frank Lloyd Wright. He brought with him a collection of what were then very avant garde furniture pieces. Those designer names are today comfortably familiar: Charles & Ray Eames, Eero Saarinen, Selig, Knoll. And, of course, Mies van der Rohe. They were incredible and I was hooked.

Imagine my delight many years later to learn that Mies had designed not only furniture but homes and buildings. And finally this past week I had a chance to experience first-hand his “piece de residential resistance,” the Farnsworth House.

Sited on the Fox River about 60 miles west of Chicago, the Farnsworth House make an incredibly simple appearance that belies its genius. A clean-lined rectangle, it seems to float above the ground. That feeling intensifies upon stepping up onto the deck, where one looks out over trees, meadow and the river itself with no visual interruption.

Our guide called it “negative space.” I call it a Wonderland. The floors are heated radiantly; somehow the other heating equipment could neither be seen nor heard. We were a crowd of about 15, and a general hush fell as we stood inside admiring both the spare, spare architecture and the fine modern furnishings.

Thanks to the loving care of the National Trust for Historic Preservation, the Farnsworth House appears much as it did at completion in 1951. And thanks to those who financially support the Trust, it should continue for decades (centuries?) to come as a testament to the genius of not only one man but to the many who gave us what we call today Mid-Century Modern.

Sandra Nickel has been listing and selling residential real estate for over 30 years, most with an intense focus on Montgomery’s Midtown neighborhoods. Sandra serves on the Mid-Alabama Coalition for the Homeless, the Cloverdale Business Coalition, Historic Southview, the Volunteer and Information Center, Landmarks Foundation and her own neighborhood Garden District Preservation Association.

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