Peek Into The Homes of Norman Foster, Eileen Gray, Finn Juhl And More Celebrated Creatives in This New Book
When you love what you do, you’ll never work a day in your life, or so the saying goes. That much is true for the outstanding individuals featured in Life Meets Art: Inside the Homes of the World’s Most Creative People, a new book published by Phaidon; their creative drive and passion are as aptly represented by their abodes, which offer intimate insights into their way of life.
Featuring over 260 homes of architectural icons, influential musicians, blue-chip artists, contemporary designers and literary giants, the book’s extensive selection almost reads like a glossary of the most acclaimed creative names in the past two centuries. Encompassing everything from English Romantic poet John Keats’ 19th-century house to the flamboyant residences of British musician David Bowie and fashion legend Gianni Versace, these homes represent each individual’s ubiquitous style and life’s work, while offering a snapshot of the zeitgeist.
“Homes are much more than creative accomplishments. They’re physical histories, embedded with our stories, and the stuff of our lives,” shares Sam Lubell, the author of the book. “A home is a perfect way to get to know (the owners) and what’s most important to them. We knew we had to include the homes of well-known creatives, but we also wanted a lot of surprises; we looked to get a wide cross-section in terms of geography, race, ethnicity and gender representation.”
Lubell, who has worked as a journalist for close to two decades, has a lifelong passion for architecture and design. The Paris-born writer recalls being “surrounded by beautiful structures from the start”; his love of architecture deepened while studying art and architectural history at Brown University in Rhode Island. He worked with Phaidon editor Virginia McLeod and her team, poring over hundreds of homes in eight months, before shortlisting and researching on the final selection for this compilation. “The most important commonality is that (the homes selected) are a reflection of their owners’ life, creativity, and spirit,” says Lubell. “Without the human element, an interior is just a pretty space.”
That human factor shines through the mix of residences with complementary and contrasting styles, bringing out unexpected similarities while highlighting their unique elements. Take, for instance, a shot of the artistic chaos in Francis Bacon’s studio that’s published next to the elegant French-style house of Agnès b. founder Agnès Troublé in the book. On another spread, woodworker and furniture maker George Nakashima’s Japanese-influenced modernist complex is adjacent to the rustic house of Nobel Prize-winning Chilean poet Pablo Neruda.
The author also revelled in discovering lesser-known facts about these artistic legends, with some of these creative talents proving to be as adroit in the field of home design as their chosen profession. “I especially loved finding hidden talents; evidence that exceptional people are often exceptional in more ways than we know,” says Lubell. “I never knew, for instance, that American author Edith Wharton was also a talented designer, collaborating with architect Ogden Codman Jr. to build her exceptional classically inspired home, along with its gorgeous landscaping.
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Or that French dramatist Victor Hugo was a very original furniture maker, crafting strange new work out of chair arms and table legs. Likewise, some of my favourite furniture makers—like Isamu Noguchi, Wharton Esherick, George Nakashima, and Sam Maloof—all had a significant hand in designing their homes, creating buildings that were in many ways inspired by their sinuous, hand-crafted furnishings.”
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In a time when our ability to travel is limited by the Covid-19 pandemic, the wanderlust that the book ignites seems all the more poignant. “We all want to imagine we’re in beautiful places like these,” says Lubell. “Reading a book is like taking a trip to places unknown. It’s very uplifting to me to know that we’ll never run out of inspiring people and inspiring homes to discover.”
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