Kenzopedia #1: A for... Architecture - Kenzine, the Kenzo official blog

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The book corner section highlights the most original aspects of Californian culture all summer long, through works selected from our KENZO boutiques and reviewed by Angelo Cirimele. Andrea Zittel is an American installation and social practice artist preoccupied with human adaptability and self-sufficiency, manifested in her experiments in building functional “living systems”. Lay of My Land, Angelo’s pick of the week, documents and reflects on these experiments, called A-Z West and located in the California desert.

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Lay of My Land

California is not just about sea, surf, Hollywood and highways.  It’s also about desert.  Yes, to you and I desert might be synonymous with the idea of flat empty expanse between where we’ve been and where we’re going, but to artists that is not always the case.  Andrea Zittel has been channeling her creativity for a decade now whilst living in the Joshua Tree desert, designing and building unique living modules that are practical but minimalist, and offer an insight into her thoughts on community and modern life in the U.S.; on the freedom the desert offers, and most importantly what the desert expects in return.  Zittel and her work demand that we discover another California.

Lay of My Land, Andrea Zittel, 2011, 160 p. Ed. Prestel.

KENZO – 60, rue de Rennes, Paris.

This season, KENZO heads out to CaliforniaCarol and Humberto’s home state. We asked Joy Yoon - author of the book 'The best things to do in Los Angeles – 1001 ideas' (Universe / Rizzoli International) - to select some surprising and unexpected addresses in Los Angeles. Our eighth installment of the series is architecture. Now, off to the incredible Hollyhock House.

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Yes, a visit to this house is a must. Architect Frank Lloyd Wright’s work has been loved, admired, and studied the world over. And of the 500+ buildings he completed within his lifetime, the Hollyhock House is one of the earliest examples of his work. Built in 1923 for Aline Barnsdall, it was soon given to the city in 1927. Visitors can purchase tickets at the Municipal Art Gallery to tour the heritage home, now located within Barnsdall Park, of the man the American Institute of Architects refers to as “the greatest American architect of all time”.


From the book 'The best things to do in Los Angeles – 1001 ideas', by Joy Yoon (Universe / Rizzoli International).

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The book corner section highlights the most original aspects of Californian culture all summer long, through works selected and reviewed by Angelo Cirimele. His pick this week is 'Richard Neutra's Miller House' by Stephen Leet. Between 1927 and 1969, the Austrian-American architect designed more than 300 modernist buildings in California. In 1936, socialite Grace Lewis Miller approached Neutra to design a small winter holiday home in Palm Springs, that could double as a studio for her avant-garde exercise course, "The Mensendieck System of functional movements".


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Richard Neutra’s Miller House

"Whenever I visit a building with truly remarkable architecture, let’s say one designed by Le Corbusier or Mallet-Stevens, I always wonder why we can’t manage to do anything like it today; in terms of light, volume, view… well in terms of everything, actually. Material considerations aside – including space, location, budget or time – the answer is probably a psychological one. What do we expect from a house? What do we want to do in it? That is why this book focusing on Richard Neutra’s Miller House is so captivating, as it examines the dialogue between the architect and client, the socialite Grace Lewis Miller. Containing original letters, sketches and drawings, it admittedly gets quite technical at times, but it tells the story of the whole project; the utopian ideals it stood for at the time, and  how meaning can emerge through arranging stones and nature. Through the letters and comments of Richard Neutra, who is also well-known for his Case Study Houses, the reader will also discover more about a certain American style of life in the 1930s." 

Richard Neutra’s Miller House, Stephen Leet, 2004, 144 p. Ed. Princeton Architectural Press.
KENZO - 60, rue de Rennes, Paris.

The book corner section highlights the most original aspects of Californian culture all summer long, through works selected and reviewed by Angelo Cirimele. His pick of the week is the 1980 monograph published by radical architecture studio SITE, known for its aesthetic approach that challenges perceptions about where a building ends and landscape and surroundings begin.

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“My armchair is comfortable and I must admit that, despite my curiosity, I appreciate architecture better in images than in reality. From photographs, models, 3D images... to the extent that sometimes it becomes unreal, like a game or an intellectual construct. It is for just this reason that I reserve a certain fondness for the SITE architects; they bring poetry into reality, such as when a facade falls off a building, as bricks tumble from walls or cars become moulded to the asphalt of parking lots. They are as attentive to the building as they are to the environment, and view architecture principally as staging. This book is an overview of their achievements (including the nine commercial stores designed for BEST of Virginia) during the 1970s. It makes me want to travel.”

'Site, Architecture as Art', 1980,112 p. Ed. Academy éditions, London.

KENZO - 49, avenue George V, Paris.

Californian architecture was a major source of inspiration for the women’s Spring/Summer 2014 collection. The angular structure of the metal heels of the shoes evoke the rectangular and minimalist metal constructions of case study houses. Their perforations echo the style of futuristic googie buildings, which drew inspiration from the space age.

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For the mens show Fall/Winter 2014, american architecture was again a source of inspiration for Carol and Humberto. This time, they traveled to the rainy Pacific Northwest and their mysterious and ghostly workers' houses. These houses might appear banal at first glance, but they have layers and history when you look deeper. As stated in the collection, things are not always what they seem…