Red Hot and Iconic


Our Midcentury Modern shows have been dubbed “pure furniture porn” in the past but if you are looking for architecture porn look no further than our new favourite website Iconic Houses

This passionate endeavour from founders iconic house owner Natascha Drabbe and Susanna Petterson of the Finnish Institute in London links important homes around the world to visit including Fallingwater, the home Frank Lloyd Wright built for The Kauffmans, Mies Van der Rohe’s Villa Tugendhat in Brno, Walter Gropius’ Bauhaus Masters’ Houses in Dessau and the wonderful Melkinov House, constructivist Konstantin Melkinov’s ”3 D calling card” where you pitch up in Moscow and just hope and pray someone is in to show you around   See the Melkinov House here in a lecture by Richard Pare held at The Lumiere in 2009.


Falling Water courtesy of the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy

Fallingwater courtesy of the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy. Above and main pic.

Architectural historian and publicist Natascha Drabbe came up with the idea after her husband, Dutch architect Mart van Schijndel  died prematurely. Not wanting to let his legacy slide she decided to show tours around her home, a beautiful light-filled house with the first and only glass doors in the world to hinge on silicon sealant.

Mart van Schijndel_Utrecht_Jan_Derwig

In her research Drabbe looked into how other C20 iconic houses around the world had turned themselves into house museums and gallery spaces and realised they were all part of an international family that needed a central place to connect. When you hear her passion and commitment, as we did  at the latest Iconic Houses Symposium at London’s V&A, you can see how easy it was for the day’s speakers, luminaries including Lynda Waggoner of Fallingwater and Iveta Cerná of Villa Tugendhat, Brno to jump on board to help.

Iconic Houses not only brings professionals together from all  corners of the world to discuss issues involved in opening important domestic masterpieces to the public, it also offers modernist travel geeks like ourselves, as founders of Midcentury Modern iconic furniture shows and the new travel site Destination Modernism, a huge map of  C20 destinations that will make architecture lovers sweat.  Iconic Houses is brilliant, easy to navigate and has an invaluable newsletter, facebook and twitter pages that let you into the latest news.  Always fancied yourself as proprietor of a Gerrit Rietveld house? There’s one near Amsterdam  that needs a Modernism-loving tenant. Want to be first on line for special openings? We just heard that these three amazing art deco houses are opening this Winter in Brussells.


Willow Rd courtesy of The National Trust Library

2 Willow Rd courtesy of The National Trust Library

Anyone who has ever visited an iconic house like our very own 2 Willow Road by Ernö Goldfinger (seen above) will understand that unlike most museums or experiences you are getting up close and personal with the people who lived there. Architects’ houses are  laboratories for the architect’s larger works or, as Susanna Petterson says, “perfect installations offering a unique experience of an architect”. Some tell controversial stories like The Schindler House in Los Angeles. Some show how a house evolved through times of war and  hardship. Some show family life within a modernist masterpiece.

Edgar Kauffman Junior, who was still alive when Lynda Waggoner worked as a tour guide at Fallingwater, admitted the last thing he wanted  for his family home was for it to be “mummified” which is why the conservation has worked so hard on giving visitors what Waggoner calls ” a transformative experience” as you wander around the grounds, the countryside and the house itself. But you will find this out for yourself when you visit it.

Iconic Houses has clearly been transformative for its original founder. In helping herself Drabbe has helped others connect and opened up these houses to an even greater audience in so doing.

Check out her labour of love here

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