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Furnishings: An Architectural Frame

Irene Lacher

Furniture created by architects has a room of its own in the world of interiors. The pieces are designed to mesh with their environments, and the most notable examples stand the test of time: Furnishings by such virtuosos of modern architecture as Mies van der Rohe and Le Corbusier remain icons of 20th-century design.

Now that the 21st century is dawning, new icons are in the making. Marmol Radziner and Associates, an architectural firm based in Santa Monica, Calif., has brought out two distinctive lines of furniture. Both are extensions of the firm’s practice of designing and building high-end residences and restoring historic homes by such mid-century masters as Richard Neutra and Rudolf Schindler.

“You almost can’t speak about their work without speaking about modernism, because they have nailed the elegant simplicity of a great modernist piece,” says Stefan Lawrence, owner of Twentieth, the Los Angeles interior design store that carries Marmol Radziner furniture. “Today, to find someone who can so perfectly capture the harmony of a good modernist aesthetic is quite rare.”

Leo Marmol and Ron Radziner’s reputation as the spiritual heirs to modernism and their meticulous attention to detail appealed to the keepers of Schindler’s flame: The Friends of the Schindler House selected them to reproduce furniture that the legendary architect designed for his landmark home in West Hollywood, Calif., during the 1920s. The line features five pieces: a sofa, ottoman, sling chair, child’s chair, and stool. Like the house, all are crafted from redwood, with upholstery available in earth tones.

The firm is also producing a line of furniture inspired by Radziner’s residence in Venice, Calif. Radziner began designing and building custom furniture for his clients’ homes a dozen years ago when he found that subcontractors’ work did not live up to his exacting specifications. Lawrence encouraged him to reproduce some of the pieces he had created for his own home, and last year the firm launched a line that includes a sofa, chairs, coffee table, ottoman, indoor and outdoor dining sets, lounge chairs, bed, night table, and dresser. The collection, marked by clean lines and low-slung pieces, is built in durable materials such as oiled American walnut. Both lines, which are also available at Sublime in New York, top out at $9,900 for large sofas and daybeds. Marmol Radziner prices begin at $1,310 for an outdoor dining bench; the Schindler line starts at $1,126 for a stool.

“We try to use natural materials with a minimum of finish in a simple, straightforward way, where the design becomes about the sense of proportion and the method of construction, how they’re put together, how different materials meet,” Radziner says. “These are the things that are important to us.”

Marmol Radziner and Associates
310.826.6222
www.marmol-radziner.com

Twentieth
323.904.1200
www.twentieth.net

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Photo by Nigel YoungFoster + Partners
Photo by Mike Van Tassell