July 11, 2011

The Ornament As Crime Nursery


Austro-hungarian modernist architect Adolf Loos is probably most famous for his manifesto, "Ornament as Crime." Unfortunately, Loos had trouble finding a publisher for his sequel, "Non-ornament is Loony Bin."


As we can see in the two children's rooms--a nursery and adjoining playroom--in Loos's 1928-30 masterpiece, the Villa Müller in Prague, which look like a bright, meticulously restored, mental hospital:

The furniture in the children's rooms is made of soft wood in smooth, geometric shapes, lacquered in bright yellow, blue and green; it was made by S.B.S. Brno. The metal beds did not survive, and were remade according to the documentation available; they are lacquered a dark red colour, matching the radiators. The linoleum - which for reasons of hygiene had no carpet over it - was also red; while that now in the room is new, it was supplied by the firm of DLW, who were suppliers of the original.
Linoleum also covers the upper surfaces of two identical square tables in the two rooms. The chairs and Windsor armchairs made of a dark stained wood were not preserved, and have been remade. The folding lamps with their biconical parchment shades, again identical in both rooms, are also new. The lamps on the bedside tables in the bedroom, with round shades of a milky glass in a brass sleeve, were obtained from a building of similar age. The inner fittings of the cupboards, lined with mahogany veneer, have not survived.
The red school board was again mounted on the playroom wall, and a large couch with striped upholstery placed in the room. The two-part hangings separating off a recess containing a washbasin and a third bed are made of the same material.
The Villa Müller website [mullerovavila.cz]
"We have outgrown ornament..." [you have been here sometime]


I can definitely see the grown child sitting by that window, writing his memoir: They Really Should Have Hidden the Chainsaw.

I think you are forgetting that as soon as a child spills its tons of toys all over the room it will look indeed beautiful. The thing with ornaments for ornaments sake is that they overcrowd any room people actually live in. Just living in a room creates all the necessary and beautiful ornaments.

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