Friday, February 11, 2011

incredible journeys: harry seidler (part 1)

Next month marks 5 years since the passing of the great architect Harry Seidler.  Today we look back at his incredible journey that brought him to Australia.
Rose Seidler House, Wahroonga, NSW Australia
Born in Austria, as a young boy building work caught his imagination. During the Second World War he was sent to England where he studied building and construction. He attended Harvard and another place in America, where he studied under and was greatly influenced by Bauhaus founder Walter Gropius, former Bauhaus teachers Marcel Breuer and Josef Albers. The space in America was also a key influence in his designs.

His parent emigrated to Sydney, but he was reluctant to join them. When his mother, Rose, asked the 24 year old Harry to design and build their home, it was an offer he could not refuse.

He brought the Bauhaus philosophy fully for the first time to an Australian residence. The Rose Seidler House (1948-1950 in Wahroonga) was a design not seen before, challenging many conventions and had several firsts. His input was in all areas, they were part of his design! The furniture (including pieces by Charles Eames), furnishing, artwork, he decided what they would be and where they would be placed. Most items were also new to Australia, either they were imported with him or custom made locally.

Grasshopper chair in main bedroom,  Rose Seidler House

Seidler said he had no particular style over his career, rather the design evolved to embrace the elements of:
  1. Social Use
  2. Technology
  3. Aesthetic Expression
All of his 3 elements can be seen in the Rose Seidler House: Breuer influenced flexible open plan living areas (the scene of many social gatherings); modern labour saving devices (especially in the kitchen); connected the indoors with views to the outdoors; artwork (all Josef Albers) as an integral part, including his focal mural using the bold colours seen throughout the house.

Rose Seidler House has been maintained as Harry envisioned it by the Historic Houses Trust of New South Wales, open to the public at 71 Clissold Road Wahoroonga On Sundays (10am to 5pm)
Harry Seidler's incredible journey continues in part 2

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