Thursday, June 30, 2011

One-on-one with Mies for my Birthday

This past Tuesday was my birthday, and in order to celebrate, since I didn't have to work, I headed down to Plano, IL, about an hour southwest of Chicago, to see the famous Farnsworth House by Mies van der Rohe.  There were a lot of options on the website for buying tickets, and I had considered going on a bus trip with the Chicago Architecture Foundation, but in the end I decided to just buy my own ticket and get myself down there, BUT I sprung for the extra $10 so that I could take pictures inside.  Best $10 I've ever spent.
            The Farnsworth House was completed in 1951, and built to be a vacation house for Dr. Edith Farnsworth, a single doctor from Chicago.  Because of a falling out over the price of the house, Mies never constructed furniture for the house, which was his original intent.  When Farnsworth sold the house 20 years later, the new owner did furnish it with Mies-designed furniture, and a few pieces by Mies's grandson, Dirk Lohan.  Sitting just north of the Fox River in Plano, the house is subject to flooding, which is why it is raised over 5 feet above the ground.  Even though Mies built it higher than scientists said he would need to, it has been damaged from flooding a few times in its sixty year history.
            When I arrived at the house, I asked what the deal was with the interior photography, and the guide told me that after they were done with the normal interior tour, I would be given 10 minutes inside to take all of the pictures I wanted.  I asked how many other people on the tour had bought the photography permit, and the tour guide answered that I was the only one.   So, when the guide was done with the normal interior tour, all the other visitors and the guide when outside, closed the door, and I was left alone inside the Farnsworth House for 10 minutes to take pictures.  I went over to the bedroom, which was the closest thing to a private area in the glass house, and called my mom.  I left her a voicemail saying something like "don't call me back, but I just wanted you to know that I'm alone inside the Farnsworth House right now."
the long kitchen, with the only real storage in the whole house, and the longest piece of stainless steel ever manufactured at the time.

The dining area
The bedroom area - with a bed by Dirk Lohan 
sitting in the corner isn't a punishment at the Farnsworth House; this chair was designed by Mies for use on cruise ships.
I think that this is actually a Tugendhat Chair, similar to Mies's Barcelona Chair, but with a more curved seat.
Mies's Barcelona Couch.
             When I got back to the visitor's center, I considered buying myself a birthday gift to commemorate the occasion.  Looking at all of the postcards, I realized that I myself had taken all the pictures I could want to remember the visit by.  It was such a cool birthday gift.