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Furniture in Richard Neutra’s Californian Architecture #Richard Neutra


The Austrian-born architect Richard Neutra became the main representative of the International Style in California thanks to the Lovell Health House in 1929, while in the 40s he became one of the main exponents of the new Californian vernacular, thanks to the Kaufmann House in Palm Springs or the house he built for John Entenza’s Arts & Architecture Case Study Programme.

Due to his contact with Dr. Lovell, Neutra developed a theory called biorrealism, in which he integrated design and naturopathic medicine and applied concepts from biology to explain the therapeutic utility of harmonious environments. This theory also meant the control of the space through design with the aim of generating pleasant sensations, something that necessarily implied the design of the suitable furniture.

Yes, in our furniture enjoyment there are not five senses involved but a million… the supreme physiological phenomenon of stereognosis, the scientific term for the combination of all sensorial experience in a single moment of our life. Richard Neutra, Funiture, unpublished essay.

For the Lovell Health House, with its prefabricated structural steelwork, cantilevers and strip windows, Neutra designed a cantilevered chair, an armchair and ottoman with bended metal tubular structure, following the line defined from Europe by the Bauhaus. He also designed the Alpha Chair, with its cubic wooden base, for the Lovell Health House’s reading nook.

Over time, Frank Lloyd Wright’s influence became more apparent and wood came to occupy a leading place in its architecture and in the furniture that he designed for it. Perhaps his most emblematic and characteristically Californian piece is the Boomerang Chair, designed in the early 1940s for Channel Heights, a housing estate for the shipping workers in San Pedro, California, although it would later appear in many of the promotional photographs of Neutra’s houses by Julius Schulman.