Nearly by the edge of the Angeles Forest in Altadena, Calif., the newly remodeled 1949 Kenneth Gordon house (part 1) was appropriately fixed with built-in furnishings to match its woodsy style (part 2). The new homeowners were just as careful in picking the stand-alone pieces.
Both Irmi and Peter prefer well-designed generic midcentury furniture over an all-iconic collection, which they consider a bit too predictable for their taste. Their interior includes items by Arne Jacobsen, Eero Saarinen, Hans Wegner, Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, Paul McCobb, Isamu Noguchi, George Nelson, Jorge Ferrari Hardoy and miscellaneous flea market finds such as Scandinavian glass and midcentury pottery.
“There are times when he goes to the flea market and I sit home and pray, ‘Not another chair,’ ” Irmi says with a sardonic smile. “Some people have shoe fetishes …”
As a child circa 1968, Peter lived in an Eichler in the Bay Area, a home he found to be very Japanese in design and long lasting in its impact on his taste. As an adult, he really became interested in architecture when he and Irmi went to Vienna.
“Being in a different visual environment, you notice everything. I’d walk down the street and the most vernacular object that every European would take for granted, like a light switch, I became obsessed with. I noticed and touched everything that I saw,” he says. “When I came home I was appalled by the lack of substance with a lot of American design and the flimsiness of things in California that aren’t built to last.”
But Irmi counters, “When we have guests from Europe, they’re always completely into the thin construction; it’s something that they find very beautiful.
“Being able to go outside from every room makes this house wonderful,” she continues. “Growing up in Vienna we lived in the third district very close to downtown. There are few houses with gardens, and most people live in apartments; you can only experience green if you go to a park.
“I came over [to the U.S.] in February and it was warm here. I sat in the garden in the sun and thought I had died and gone to heaven.”