The Neue Interior
Fr. Hitzbleck, Dusseldorf; Dominikus Bohm, Koln
One of the building blocks of a good library of modern design is a book published by Julius Hoffman in 1930. Titled Die Neue Raumkunst in Europa und Amerika, it is perhaps the best single volume I have seen depicting the early vision of the modernist interior. Unfortunately, it is also a rare volume, and is consequently expensive at $350-$750, when it does turn up. Still, it is worth a look. The roster of designers and architects whose work is showcased reads like a who’s who of design talent in the first third of the 20th century. Included among the household names are: Richard Neutra, RM Schindler, Josef Hoffmann, Djo Bourgeois, Le Corbusier, Marcel Breuer, Walter Gropius, Emile Jacques Ruhlmann, Jean-Michel Frank, Paul Laszlo, Robert Mallet-Stevens, Rene Herbst, Pierre Chareau, and Eliel Saarinen.
Eliel Saarinen, New York; Djo Bourgeois, Paris
As is evident from this list, designers of European background are featured, though American work is included. The photography used in the book is uniformly good, and often artistic. The clarity and order of the modernist interior shines through, but so does the layered and nuanced elegance, and the artful balancing of form, pattern, and texture. There is delight in connecting the work of the best-known designers, and in re-experiencing the freshness and timelessness of their visions. There is also delight in re-discovering first-rate work by lesser-known or long-forgotten practitioners, among them Walter Sobotka, Hanns Hopp, Fr. Hitzbleck, and Dominikus Bohm.
Die Neue Raumkunst contains about 300 photographs of modernist interiors and furnishings, and is a visual encyclopedia of the best-practice design of the 1920’s.
Maurice Casteels, The New Style: Architecture and Decorative Design, A Survey of its First Phase in Europe and America. Charles Scribner’s, 1931
Paul Frankl, New Dimensions: The Decorative Arts of Today in Words and Pictures. Payson and Clarke: New York, 1928
Dorothy Todd and Raymond Mortimer, The New Interior Decoration. Charles Scribner’s, 1929