Thursday, 12 June 2014

COS at Case Study House #22








On May 9, 1960, on a warm, still Los Angeles evening, architectural photographer Julius Shulman was photographing the 22nd of a series of Case Study houses for Arts & Architecture Magazine. It was his 2980th job in his photographic career and he set about getting it done just like any other. Stahl House or Case Study House #22, designed by architect Pierre Koenig and belonging to Buck and Carlotta Stahl, was very near completion - it's yard lay unlandscaped and a delivery of furniture was delayed when the truck driver decided to visit his mother upstate. However, on this Monday evening an image had to be captured and it needed to go to press. 

The architect persuaded the delivery man to drive through the night to deliver the house's modernist furniture. He brought his own deck chairs up to the house, along with some architectural pottery. Shulman busied himself finding ways "to breathe some air into the house". He requested that Koenig "Tell (his) students to bring their girlfriends", "...to get a feeling of natural activity, as well as using them for scale". A young architecture student, Jim Jennings called upon his fiancé and her friend to come to site and pose for Shulman. They were told to wear dresses. 

Lights for an interior shot were being set up by Shulman's assistant, when he happened to step outside and notice the view of Los Angeles city beyond the house. In an instant, it was decided that the composition had to change. Equipment was moved out to the yard, the house's lights were switched off and replaced with flashbulbs. Outside, Shulman set up a seven minute exposure to capture the grid of the city's night lights. During this time, the girls sat in the dark. Shulman was to inform them when a flash would go off. They were to continue talking to each other while sitting as still as possible. The result, still after 50 years have passed, is one of the most reproduced architectural photographs in the world.

This year, a capsule of COS' SS14 collection was brought to Case Study House #22. An editorial styled by Hannes Hetta and photographed by Max Farago was created to mark the selling of these pieces in American retail store Opening Ceremony.

Shulman was the first architectural photographer to include people like props inside the buildings he photographed. His images showcased a lifestyle, one which was often the envy of its viewers. This editorial by COS does the same. Here these models pose nonchalant against a Los Angeles cliffside and in a glass-walled room which cantilevers over its edge. They are comfortable in themselves, in their choice of lifestyle and in the garments they choose to wear. These images beautifully immortalise Shulman's legacy and have us longing to hop on the next flight to LA. 



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