On August 25, oomph visited one of the Country’s most treasured architectural landmarks, The Philip Johnson Glass House, for a very unique photo shoot. Located here, in our home-town of New Canaan, CT., The Glass House remains an important and influential example of Modern Architecture; a unique study of minimalism, geometry, proportion as well as transparency and reflection.
The house is instantly recognizable, quite literally, a glass box that sits on almost 50 acres of bucolic Connecticut countryside. Its image has been widely studied, admired, and published in architecture and design books, magazines, and ad campaigns alike. Hidden away from ogling eyes, the property boasts no less than 13 additional structures, each designed by Johnson and prime examples of modernist architecture. Today, the property and its out buildings are open to visitors, but this unique property served as the home of Philip Johnson and his partner, art critic and curator, David Whitney, for 58 years. The property and its buildings are officially owned by the National Trust for Historic Preservation, at the direction of Johnson and Whitney, and has been designated a National Historic Landmark.
To visit the Glass House is an extraordinary experience. From the moment you drive through the “gate,” you become immediately aware of the precision by which the entire landscape was designed. The landscape, most of which was designed by Whitney himself, is a vista of rolling fields of varying color, low bramble and waving grasses. Stone walls rise high along the edge of the property, and not another house can be seen in any direction. A man made pond sits low on the property where much of the surrounding woods were carved into to create greater views from the house.
As your eyes roam across the majestic New England landscape, each of the structure reveals itself, one after another, unfolding the story and brilliance of the architect. The property has approximately 14 structures –“a diary of Johnson’s architectural ideas.” The elaborate art collection, part of which belonged to Johnson and Whitney, lives in both the Painting and Sculpture galleries.
Johnson claims it’s “the only house in the world where you can see the sunset and the moonrise at the same time, standing in the same place.”
The Glass House, the most iconic building on the property, is the anchor by which all other buildings are designed. The innovative design and use of materials allows the structure to seamlessly blend into the landscape. The décor has remained the same since Johnson and Whitney inhabited the home.
A seventeenth-century painting attributed to Nicolas Poussin stands in the living room. The image, Burial of Phocion, depicts a classical landscape and was selected specifically for the house by Alfred H. Barr, Jr., the first director of the Museum of Modern Art. The sculpture, Two Circus Women, by Elie Nadelman stands opposite.
The Brick House, the guest house and one of the most unwelcoming structures on the property, is a complete contrast to The Glass House. Almost the same size, the Brick House is almost entirely enclosed by brick walls, but reveals itself as a post-modern sanctuary with ample light and high design.
The Studio, another example of Johnson’s interest in varying styles of architecture, was his Library. Filled with volumes of books on architecture and design, where he spent endless hours working isolated from the distractions of nature (wind, sun, trees, etc.). There were also no phones, no water, and no speakers to ensure absolute concentration. Skylights provide the needed light and the slightest environmental orientation. Johnson often commented that the act of travelling from one building to the next is a “very important part of the day.”
Other important buildings include, Da Monsta, a series of Vernacular buildings, Pavilion in the Pond, Ghost House, Monument to Lincoln Kirstein, Grainger, Calluna Farms, and Popestead, each of which plays an important part to the property’s history, story, and legacy Much more can be read about and discovered about these buildingson the Glass House Website, along with an extensive history on Philip Johnson and David Whitney.
As an American brand based in New Canaan, CT, we have always been drawn to the beauty and history of The Glass House. We have never taken for granted that one of our town’s most treasured landmarks is also so important to American design and architecture. We could not help but want to be a part of it. Although our business has only been around for about seven years, several of our designs have become synonymous to our brand. In other words, instantly recognizable as oomph. For these “iconic” designs, we felt there was no better way to highlight their beauty than at the iconic Glass House.
We chose to photograph both inside and outside the Glass House to capture the different elements of the property. We “placed” our designs within the house, as works of art might be installed. Colors were chosen to stand out against the very neutral palette of the Glass House interiors and the natural world outside. As a result, our vibrant pieces came to life, and looked as though they were guests at a very chic party.
All quotes taken from text on www.theglasshouse.org
For more information on the History of the Glass House, visit www.theglasshouse.org.
We cannot recommend a visit to the actual property enough. If you are in town, swing by our showroom and say hello!