Albert Frey was an architect who was one of the pioneers of the American modernism style. The architect spent most of his life living in Palm Springs, California, a mainstay of mid-century modern design. Mid-century modern design is known for its post and beam construction and its use of vast walls of glass, was intended to help homeowners avoid the feeling of their indoor suffocation, to make the indoor/outdoor experience of the home more seamless, but the glass walls often made people feel like they lived in aquariums. The Frey House II, was the architect’s second home located in Palm Springs, was a response to help remedy that, with obvious cues such as the giant boulder hovering over the bed.
The Frey House II also has moveable walls that when the home design is opened, makes it more of a portico than a house. The architectural design has stunning fallaway views and when it was built in 1964, the home design was the highest-perched home in the valley, and the painted blue ceiling suggests the above sky. The beautiful architectural design blends seamlessly with its natural surroundings, and natural rock is a beautiful addition to the home.
The Frey House II left nothing to chance with Frey's second house. Frey spent five years studying building sites, and once he settled on this particular one he erected a 10-foot pole and spent another year using the pole to gauge the sun and the light. Frey carefully surveyed the contours and all of the rock. Then he put up some strings to see how the architectural design would work out. When Frey established the levels, he then had to fit the glass to the rock. The slope of the roof follows the natural slope of the terrain. The contrast between natural rock and high tech materials is beautiful.
Midcentury modern design broadly describes the architectural design, graphic design, and furniture design from the middle of the 20th century around 1933 to 1965, though some would argue that the period is specifically limited between 1947 to 1957. The timeframe which is part of a larger modernist movement has roots in the Industrial Revolution at the end of the 19th century and also in the post-World War I period.
Some of the distinguishing features of the midcentury modern design is a style that has a classic, minimal, understate, and clean lines with little fuss. Other features of this style of design are uncluttered and sleek design lines that have both organic and geometric forms, functionality is important, minimal ornamentation, the juxtaposition of different and contrasting materials, and an exploration of different traditional and non-traditional materials.
With the new methods of building construction and new materials such as plastic, later Mid-Century Modern design has influenced new designers. Plastic was used for its unique qualities and characteristics rather than to imitate any wooden furniture. There was a liberal use of traditional materials such as wood, and non-traditional materials such as glass, metal, plywood, vinyl, Plexiglass, and Lucite along with a wide range of colors from bold to neutral, and the graphic use of black and white.
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