The Cool House: Modernism on Long Island*

Saturday, March 01, 2008

Modernism on Long Island*

* including a personal surprise

Studio Proprietor John J. Fondrisi with Account Executives Melissa Beck (left) and Denise Garcia at the DWR Roslyn Leap into modern Long Island Event, February 29 2008.

Lovers of architecture and design were celebrating modernism on Long Island last night with a showing of the documentary "History Along the Turnpike: Levittown," by Richard Altamonte. Responding to a shortage of housing for returning World War II veterans, Levitt & Sons built 17,447 Cape Cod and ranch style houses between 1947 and 1951. Although tiny by today's standards at 750-800 sq ft, the houses were designed to be readily extended and came equipped with Bendix washing machines, Tracy All-steel cabinets and Themopane Insulated glass. All this and a TV built into the space under the stairwell for $7,990. Incidentally, some of Levitt's innovative ideas were influenced by the work of Frank Lloyd Wright on a house in Great Neck, NY.

One of the most fascinating aspects of the film were the interior shots of the homes with their now iconic furniture. The Noguchi table designed in 1947 was the centerpiece of one living room, while others featured the Eames Eiffel Chairs and George Nelson clocks. The DWR team showcased the designs with screenings of the films of Charles and Ray Eames and a draw to win a George Nelson clock and a copy of his classic book How to See.

The DWR studios are great venues for screening movies, after all you get to test out the comfort of their furniture for a good while, check out the lighting in the dark rather than daylight and they provide great nibbles, not just cheese and wine but salami, vegetables and dips, too. And you meet other lovers of modern design and architecture. At last night's event we had a totally unexpected meeting with the architect Joe Scarpella and his wife Diane who, it turned out, had almost bought The Cool House in 2004. How's that for a coincidence?

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