Selldorf and Johnson, Together Again For The First Time


Everyone who’s anyone who’s ever been a little too obsessed with modernist architecture (us, one of our friends), will be all-too-familiar with Philip Johnson‘s Glass House in New Canaan, CT. And everyone who’s anyone who’s ever been to an Architectural League lecture last year when Annabelle Selldorf spoke, or generally has their Teutonic knowledge at an all-time maximum, will know about her design for the Neue Galerie on 5th Avenue, Manhattan.

But they might have, somehow, missed the forty-foot-high billboard advertising the Urban Glass House, one of Johnson’s last projects before he kicked the bucket last year, and for which Selldorf has been commissioned to do the interiors. A collaboration which would of course lead any graphic designer or brand identity person to think to themselves, “Graphic designer/brand identity person, how can we possibly combine those two in a graphic way to represent the collaboration, however posthumous, between them?”

According to the Times, this question was asked and answered by former Interview creative director Richard Pandiscio, who also managed the identities of One Kenmare and M40, by putting half of Johnson’s face and half of Selldorf’s on a billboard. And press invitations. And press releases. With the tagline “Modern luxury has evolved.” Which whole combination we understand as pointing out the connection between the two, both visually and textually. So we see Johnson’s face, and Selldorf’s, but it’s his left and her right, so you want to put them together, but they sort of act like repelling magnets. And then the line makes us realize that what Johnson started with luxury, Selldorf is finishing. Or?

Selldorf doesn’t see such a straight line. From the article:

It’s a continuum that Selldorf says doesn’t necessarily want for accuracy: “My work is nothing like Johnson’s, but there is a mutual affinity for architectural integrity that is important. You must be careful not to be so literal about all this.

I think they are trying to say that this is a project about architecture–not decoration, not style. A clear architectural idea on the inside and the outside.”

The idea seems to contain testing a hundred tiles and the authoritative part of the catalog, a “history of odernism [Gray Lady sic!] 101.”

We’re crashing the Wednesday groundbreaking/excuse for free lunch, so we’ll keep you posted. In the meantime, grounds for contemplation over at the Gutter, where a couple bored readers played around with Photoshop. To delightful effect.