Monday, November 19, 2007

Neutra's iconic Kaufmann House for auction - what's it to you?

A landmark historic modern home, meticulously restored, now to be sold by auction no less. It is said that pricing of the house will reflect its value as a design object in the context of its significant history and cultural value - meaning it won't be priced as real estate, calculated from its square footage and bathroom count, no more than you would price a famous painting on the quantity of canvas and gesso. "So What" you say? What's it to me, an average jane or joe who would just like an outside the average affordable modern house. I say it means a whole lot more than you think. the Kaufmann House designed by Richard Neutra, 1946, photo by Tim Street-Porter for the New York Times I'm not going to repeat the whole history of the house - its been told many times and way better than I can repeat. Start with the New York Times article on the sale, and the associated photo slide show. Its an awesome house, commissioned by Edward Kaufmann who was Frank Lloyd Wright's client for Falling Water, a fantastic award winning restoration by the current owners with architects Marmol Radziner which included the consolidation of surrounding parcels to protect the house from encroachment. This house has everything going for it as a piece of real estate. It seems unthinkable that it could be the victim of a tear-down. Don't be surprised - it has happened to other fine examples of design more recently than I care to remember. But the marketplace is not looking upon this house as real estate - its looking upon it as an object of cultural value, which derives from its design. In short THE DESIGN HAS VALUE. That is a head change for the market, and I know that this is at the elite strata of real estate, but the writing is on the wall. Design is destined to play a bigger part in the valuation of properties. The fall out from that is consumers becoming more savvy about design and demanding better product, just as we have seen in the majority of other consumer products. Less McMansions and poorly designed cookie cutter houses, and more quality designed homes which will include the world of modern homes that we are interested in here. It is inevitable that as more consumers learn about design many more will be drawn to modern design. I am not talking about the displacement of traditional houses. They may always be the main-stay of the market. But the crummy hokey poorly designed pseudo traditional crap that america has come to blindly accept as their image of home is going to increasingly come under pressure from better designed product. Savvy developers and builders will be ahead of the ball - start now during this opportunistic downturn.

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  1. Modern Design buyers: Please beware that the people at Sollo Rago are terribly rude and would not even allow phone bidding unless a bid was guaranteed. I will NEVER give them business again. The past few years have created an attitude problem in their auction house, they believe they are doing YOU a favor to let you bid. Take your business elsewhere and good luck!

  2. dmy, my blog entry was about the significance of the value of the property. Please, your comments are off topic in that sense. I do not want this blog to become a platform for airing these complaints. Take this elsewhere.

    I leave this for now, but any more will be removed.