Saturday, January 31, 2009

Paul Laszlo: Rich Man's Architect

Laszlo bomb shelter for US AirforceLaszlo bomb shelter for US Air Force

In one of my conversations with Julius Shulman, he said Laszlo would come to him with a wallpaper sample and ask if the material would look good in a magazine photograph...
How's that for a total design concept?

"Building a house is like giving birth to a baby. The client is the mother, and I am the father." - Paul László 1900-1993

"Rich Man's Architect" Monday, Aug. 18, 1952 TIME Magazine

Architect-Designer Paul László, 52, is a comfort-loving Hungarian expatriate who arrived in the U.S. 16 years ago with $200 in his pocket and a one-word vocabulary: okay. Since then he has enormously expanded both. By catering to the comfort of his rich clients, he has built up a $1,5OO,000-a-year business as designer of some of the nation's most luxurious showplaces. And in his fancy Beverly Hills showroom last week, he was volubly admiring the first samples of his latest commission: $1,000,000 worth of modern furniture to be manufactured in Europe.

Architect László designs his houses down to the last ashtray or built-in Kleenex holder. He protests that money is not everything: "One million dollars will not build the perfect house. You somehow can't put everything you want into it. It's largely a matter of taste, judgment and talent." But money helps.

Among his fanciest projects: the million-dollar Wichita Falls palace of Texas Oilman Charles McGaha (built in collaboration with Architect Allen Siple), which includes a horseshoe-shaped swimming pool, Lucite-legged chairs, hand-painted draperies, and a radio-controlled main gate;* and Movie Producer William Perlberg's cozier ($250,000) rambler, with swimming pool, projection room, Lucite wastebaskets and hip-high combination shelf and hearthstone. Other László clients: Gloria Vanderbilt Stokowski, Freeman (Amos 'n' Andy) Gosden, Barbara Hutton, Sonja Henie, Hollywood Director William Wyler.

Like most modern architects, László makes full use of uncluttered space and free access to the outdoors. His aim: simplicity with elegance. "Warmth in luxury," he says, "is easy. But it is full of pitfalls. You can overbalance a house with the furnishings . . . Today's modern furniture is mostly glamorized boxes. Furniture must help balance a home ... It should so blend with the wallpaper and contours of the room that it does not annoy ..."

It is this "idea of balance," says László, that distinguishes him from most modern architects. And too few of them pay enough attention to the house owner. Building a house, says László, "is like giving birth to a baby. The client is the mother, and I am the father."

From Time Magazine article titled, "Rich Man's Architect" Monday, Aug. 18, 1952
Paul Laszlo @ Wikipedia

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