From the Spoon to the City: An architect’s perspective

Editorial Staff Exhibitions

The Los Angeles County Museum of Art’s latest exhibition From the Spoon to the City: Design by Architects from LACMA’s Collection highlights great design from the 20th century and explores architects’ passion for designing both buildings and their contents.  It includes objects by Frank Lloyd Wright, Marcel Breuer, Rudolph Schindler, Richard Neutra, Michael Graves, and Frank Gehry. The slideshow below includes a small sampling of works from the exhibition.

  • “The Talesin Line” textile designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, 1955.
  • The Bubbles Lounge Chair by Frank Gehry, 1987.

    All photographs © Museum Associates/LACMA.

  • Eames Storage Unit (ESU) designed by Charles and Ray Eames, made by Herman Miller Furniture Company, 1951-52.
  • Bedroom dresser with hnged half-round mirror and stool by Rudolph Schindler, 1936-38.
  • Coffee table by Alvin Lustig, c. 1947-48.

We asked several prominent architects to name a “small design” object that they particularly admire. Here’s what they picked:

Eric Höweler / Höweler + Yoon Architecture
The flat pack tableware by Orikaso uses geometry and material to create a product that is useful, practical and smart. I love the simplicity of the fold that allows flat sheet to become a full set of watertight containers. I imagine that it was developed for camping or other conditions that require lightness or portability, but we use them around the house.

Meejin Yoon / Höweler + Yoon Architecture
I like stainless steel chopsticks for their simplicity, practicality, and elegance. While western dinnerware depends on specificity of form, Asian chopsticks maintain a minimalism of form and a maximization of the skill set of the user—sophistication is displaced from the artifact to the user in the form of dexterity or agility.

Mark Foster Gage / Gage/Clemenceau Architects
For years I’ve been an aficionado of Nike Waffle Racers. I have about twenty pairs in all sorts of colors and materials. I’m certainly not known as a purist, or a minimalist, but when Bill Bowerman, co-founder of Nike, poured rubber into his wife’s waffle iron and produced the first version of these gems in 1974, I think he was onto something original, simple, and lasting. They’re lighter than anything I’ve found, as the thinness of the sole and skin is exactly enough to negotiate the space between the surface of your foot and the surface of the ground without excess material. They also have the bonus of occasionally providing me with the urge to run—a valuable thing for someone nearing middle-age.

Tom Kundig / Olson Sundberg Kundig Allen Architects
The pencil. It is our most intimate tool, fitting perfectly in the hand, leaving notes and marks of our humanity—music, poetry, ideas, revolutions, design, relationships, legacy, theories, abstract notions, art—and our souls.

Hadrian Predock / Predock_Frane Architects
The object that I would suggest is the Phillipe Starck designed Salif juicer for Alessi. It marries sci-fi beauty with functional precision, and encourages me to do the juicing instead of using an automatic juicer.

Deborah Berke / Deborah Berke & Partners Architects
I think the Faber-Castell simple round black pencil is perfect. It is small, rolls nicely between my fingers while I think, and has not a single extraneous element.