Though Carlo Scarpa was never licensed to practice architecture and was repeatedly sued by representatives of the profession, he created a unique and enduring body of work, in his native Venice and its hinterland. He was revered as a teacher, excelled as a glass designer, and his mastery of detail is memorialized in the adjective "Scarparesque." In contrast to Gio Ponti, who popularized modernism and had an international practice, Scarpa stayed close to home, working more as an artisan than as a formgiver.
By Michael Webb
As real estate values skyrocket, young professionals who want to live in the heart of big cities on a budget are increasingly drawn to micro apartments that provide them with a minimum of private space as an alternative to sharing. Living small is nothing new. The poor have always endured cramped quarters—from primitive huts to tenements or trailers—and the homeless are grateful for a modest room in an SRO. Le Corbusier and his wife spent many summers in their 12-foot-square cabin in Roquebrune. When he first visited India to design Chandigarh, the master said he couldn't improve on the versatility of the linear shacks that families construct from scavenged materials beside major highways. Little has changed since then. A few years ago, architect Bijoy Jain showed me through such a shelter outside his studio in Bombay; it was a marvel of ingenuity, impeccably maintained, and he was greeted as a welcome guest.
“For this year’s exhibition, we decided to do something different—to go more whimsical and playful but at the same time refined,” Cristina Grajales says of the new exhibition at the Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden. The new show opens December 6 to coincide with the host of art and design-related events this month as Art Basel Miami and Design Miami come to town, not to mention the opening of Fairchild’s own Adam R. Rose and Peter R. McQuillan Arts Center.
Too many organic architects, from Frank Lloyd Wright on, become preachy and dogmatic when they contrast their work with mainstream modernism. Mickey Muennig is as down to earth and direct in words as he is in the woodsy houses he has concealed in the folds of Big Sur. Born in Joplin, MO, 80 years ago, he was nicknamed Mickey by his sister because she thought he resembled Disney's mouse, and the moniker stuck. Drawings by Bruce Goff inspired him to study with that maverick in Norman, Oklahoma, and soon after he settled in Big Sur. It's one of the world's magical places, where verdant hills shear off at the waterline, and the coast highway snakes through forests and meadows with the sparkle of the ocean far below. The Coastal Commission has kept it pristine, and the few rustic buildings merge into the landscape. From the start, Mickey bonded with the land, designing houses that are rooted and airy, open and sustainable. He sculptured spaces from wood beams and poured concrete, winning approval from the authorities and enchanting a succession of clients.
Over the last few months, we've been featuring some favorite articles from our past issues to celebrate our 15th year. Today, we bring you a feature from our May/June 2007, one of the first to be available in print and online. The territory covered is one we're passionate about here at FORM—the evolution of Los Angeles. Written now over seven years ago, we hope it gives you a chance to think back and forward about our dynamic city.
By John Southern
Step out of your car on a typical residential street in the San Fernando Valley or West Los Angeles, and all you may hear is the far off hum of traffic doing its mechanical Foxtrot on one of the region’s many freeways. The density is remarkably horizontal in nature; there is little evidence that you are in a metropolitan area of more than 13 million people. Fly into Los Angeles, however, and you get an entirely different picture. The Los Angeles metropolitan region stretches out before your eyes, seemingly infinite in its scope—an almost unfathomable conglomeration of freeways and streets, industrial districts, parks, downtowns, and residential neighborhoods. Hundreds of cities form an urban patchwork of hyper-development that only in recent years has begun to show signs of slowing its outward march into the surrounding desert.
Because the city has traditionally eschewed verticality in favor of flatness, Los Angeles is poised to evolve into a vibrant hybrid of hyper-stratified urbanity and suburban expansiveness in the twenty-first century as it introduces denser (and it is assumed more vertical) housing conditions atop the lower density of the suburban strip. This hybrid has the potential to redefine the way we understand both urban and suburban domestic environments, as these two housing typologies collide to produce a context that questions the very definition of what a city can be.