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Architectural Pottery and Californian planters

Living in California has made me revisit gardening, landscaping and interior design. The severe drought of the last 5 years has resulted in a lot of people getting rid of their green lawns and replacing their water-guzzling plants by hardy succulents, landscaping with rocks and pebbles and the use of planters. I wrote about the drought and the use of succulents here.

architectural pottery

Above and below: outdoor and indoor vintage planters by Architectural Pottery. Image by fashionsphinx.com

indoor planter

When I moved to California at the end of the 80’s  I was introduced to unique pottery-making and exquisite earthenware design  through the Bauer Pottery and Gainey Ceramics brands and later that of Heath Ceramics. Tile has been a favorite building material in California since the early Spanish settled the area in 1.769 and brought with them bright-colored tiles. Spanish, Mexican, and the attending Chinese design of the 17th and 18th centuries have all influenced the decoration of tile and other pottery in California.

Subsequently I was introduced to the world of California planters from the Architectural Pottery company after seeing the beautiful white planters pop up in a couple of stunning LA homes, in my favorite mid-century antiques stores and in books about California design and architecture, in particular in the beautiful photographs of Julius Schulman. The simple matt-white planters are featured in many of his photographs in clusters or isolated, elevated by spindly stands or hugging the ground.

Below: A photograph by Julius Schulman. The Stahl house, designed by Pierre Koenig in 1959.

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frey house

Above: the Frey house. Photographed by Julius Schulman.

Architectural Pottery was founded in 1950 by Max and Rita Lawrence. Prominent mid-century LA architects such as Richard Neutra and Pierre Koenig favored the pottery line for spare, geometrically ordered residential gardens and commercial buildings. The Museum of Modern Art in New York exhibited pieces as early as 1951.

In the 1950s modernism came to define the way of living in Los Angeles. Captivated by the inviting climate and newness of land, architects and designers created a new sense of living by embracing the capability of an indoor-outdoor lifestyle through post-beam construction and walls made of glass.  Max and Rita Lawrence, however, added their own special warmth to this new lifestyle by bringing the outdoors inside through streamlined pottery. The Lawrence’s saw the opportunity to produce and distribute these new designs and brought the geometric earthenware to the masses.

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Below:  Interiors with an outdoor feel and planters from Architectural Pottery.

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architectural pottery..

Architectural Pottery’s iconic designs are characterized by sleek-lined vessels, devoid of ornamentation, and are usually large in scale. These simple, geometric forms – cones, cylinders, gourds, and totems – allowed architects and designers to incorporate these accessories seamlessly in their homes and buildings. Designers of Architectural Pottery included Malcom Leland, David Cressey, John Follis, and Rex Goode, who each created their own distinctive designs.

Below: Stunning historical images from the Vessel Company. Copyright Vessel USA.

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architectural pottery

 

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Below: an original selection of planters from the Architectural Pottery catalog.

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John Caldwell, who also worked with Architectural Pottery, noted “just about every significant architectural project of the 1950s had to have an Eames chair and an Architectural Pottery pot in it.”  Architectural Pottery could be seen in buildings of the most prominent architects of the time such as Rudolph Schindler, Richard Neutra, John Lautner and Pierre Koenig.  In 1955 the popularity of the pottery skyrocketed, which was noted in an order of 200 of the famous white cylindrical planters to accent the indoor-outdoor spaces of the Beverly Hilton Hotel.

Below: from the collection and catalogs of Architectural Pottery.

architectural pottery.

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The Architectural Pottery line is continued now by Vessel USA  Vessel was founded in 1998 to revive stunningly simple planters and other ceramic designs that brought acclaim to the Architectural Pottery Collection. From materials and specifications to glazes and firing techniques, each piece is hand crafted with passion and integrity.

Today, Vessel USA Inc. continues to produce Modern Planters & Containers, Ceramic Sculpture and Garden Accessories from its studio in San Diego, California. Many design aficionados embrace these classic icons as well as limited new additions.

Some sources I used for this post : Architecturalpottery. com ,   A San Francisco clockwork Orange   and   A La Modern 



7 responses to “Architectural Pottery and Californian planters”

  1. JESUS GOMEZ says:

    ME ENCANTA EUGENIA, ES MUY INSPIRADORA ESA ARQUITECTURA A LA VEZ ZEN Y MODERNA, AL IGUAL QUE SUS JARDINES, SIMPLES PERO CONTUNDENTES Y ARQUITECTONICOS. HAY UNA PELICULA RODADA EN ESA CASA QUE MIRA A LOS ANGELES, (STAHL HOUSE), ES DE HACE UNOS 8 O 10 AÑOS Y ES ESTUPENDA, ES UNA REUNION DE AMIGOS QUE LLEGAN A UNA FIESTA TODOS MARAVILLOSOS Y DE UNA VANIDAD APLASTANTE, Y CONFORME TRANSCURRE LA FIESTA SE VAN VIENDO TODAS SUS MISERIAS, I RECOMMEND IT, BUT I DONT REMEMBER THE NAME…..BESOS Y MIL GRACIAS

    • fashionsphinx says:

      Gracias Jesus
      no conozco la película pero la buscare !
      Esta arquitectura y el landscaping , todo zen, minimal y meditativo , me apasiona y me inspira. Son casas que dejan entrar la naturaleza y la luz….integradas en la roca y en el ambiente….what else do you want from a house ?

      xxxx fashionsphinx

  2. Flo maeght says:

    Maisons de rêve !

  3. Jesús Moraime says:

    Apasionante !
    Que belleza de arquitecturas, piscinas, vistas y el carácter limpio, preciosista y escultórico de los pots !
    Buen trabajo Fashion Sphinx !

  4. Victoria Melian says:

    Love them… Wonder if anyone has them in Spain?

    • fashionsphinx says:

      I have no idea but look in the Vessel link I posted in the article……they carry all the range plus the new designs……some beautiful stunning big ones for hotels and offices too

      the vintage ones are now expensive…I know a place in LA that has many but they are all in the $300 to $500 range, but still well worth it if you have THAT type of modern house and pool and terrace and garden.

      They are so so decorative in the most subtle way.

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