How Livable Is A Modern House?

Since my look at early mid-century design is coming to an end I thought I’d share a fun article that explores the future of home design.

Between 1941-1948 Walker Art Center in Minneapolis conceived and built two homes as part of their ambitious Idea House Project. These two split-level modern homes were designed by museum staff members William Friedman and Hilde Reiss in association with local architect Malcolm Lien and they were the first fully functional modern homes built by an American museum. These impressive houses were created during the US housing shortage after WW2 in an effort to educate the public about modern home design. The contemporary homes featured the latest technologies, new furniture concepts and open floor plans. They were presented to the general public as “Idea Houses” and visitors were encouraged to use them as inspiration for their own home building and design projects.

In 1948 Life Magazine asked an “average American family” to move into one of the Idea Houses for a week so they could document the family’s experience. The magazine asked the family “How Livable Is A Modern House?” and the results are fascinating to read. The family is obviously a little confused and intimidated by some of the home’s contemporary design elements, but overall they seemed to enjoy the homes modern conveniences and open layout.

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