February 18, 2010

Good Price, Bad Karma: Richard Neutra Bunk Beds


How many ways can a bunk bed kick you in the nuts?

These incredible, pared down, cantilevered beds were designed by Richard Neutra--excuse me, Richard FREAKIN' Neutra, in 1959. For the Singleton House, a masterpiece of modernist simplicity set on 5+ acres of hilltop above Bel Air.

Here's the iconic image of/from the Singleton House, by the late Julius Shulman:


Here's a much humbler but equally awesome vintage snapshot of the Singleton House, of the superbly named architect-to-be, Zeno Winkens, probably taken by his father Egon, who became a partner in Neutra's firm in the 1960s.


And here are the Singleton House's three bedrooms after Vidal Sassoon's designer-wannabe wife got through with her thorough gut job, remodeling, and addition, which her realtor called a "meticulous renovation," as if adding 5,000 square feet of Carrara marble would justify asking $25 million in 2006, barely 18 months after buying the place for just $6 million?


So the only reason these bunk beds were even coming up at auction at LA Modern is because they'd been scrapped along with the rest of the actual Neutra elements of the Singleton House. Which has been basically destroyed by deluxe ahistoricist spectacle.

Oh, here they are in 2008. I guess this terrazzo setup was their second home, then? And I guess I'm supposed to consider it a small miracle that they survived at all?

Survived, only to sell for just $4,000 [$4,900 with buyer's premium]? And then I only find out about it now, more than two months after the sale? All that's left is for the beds to reappear a year from now, stripped, sanded and pickled to match the fleeting decorative whims of some random Brentwood McMansion dweller.

Dec. 6, 2009, Lot 53: Richard Neutra Bunk Beds, 1959, sold for $4900 [lamodern.com]
Previously/related: Wharton Esherick's Captain's Bed was sweeter before


Sigh, I miss 2006. Actually I miss 2000 when you could buy a Neutra for a (relative) song, bearded hipster graphic designers weren't youtube sensations mispronouncing his name and Dion and Eames were just gadflys.

BTW I will build you some NEW beds for $3k, then charge you an additional $5k to tear down and rebuild your kids bedroom walls. Hell for another $5k we could eliminate that post and go for a real cantilever.

ouch, those bearded hipsters, no excuse.

the reality, of course, is that those beds are total CPSC violations, exactly the kind of thing you'd want to do an "inspired by" version of anyway, if you're actually thinking of putting a kid or two in there. And that cantilever, kids'd be swinging off that thing like a monkey; it'd have to be unit steel beam construction with the wall.

So add another $2k for the engineering of the steel, hmm so for about the price of an Ikea kitchen remodel you could get 2 small sized beds. Going vintage might be a bargain.

I'm swooning over the windows. So gorgeous. I'm sad to hear the house was gutted though. Some people have more money than sense.

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