World Interiors Day is an annual event held at the end of May, organized by IFI (International Federation of Interior Architects/ Designers) and aims to bring more awareness to the profession of Interior Design as well as communicate its importance on people’s wellbeing.
Looking back in history, interior design used to be reserved for royalties and the very wealthy. However, towards the end of the 19th century and especially during the early parts of the 20st century, interior design slowly became a part of life for other society levels as well. This trend further developed once stores such as IKEA opened their doors in the 1940’s. Suddenly, interior design was available to the masses.
The theme of this year’s World Interiors Day was ‘Design for all’ – emphasising on the importance of professional interior design and its impact on individuals and societies.
On WID national organizations and design studios around the world are encouraged to bring the subject closer to the public by organizing events, workshops and open days.
This year the VSI.ASAI. (Verein Schweizer Innenarchitekten/ Architektinnen), the Swiss association of interior designers and architects held their celebration at the Centre Le Corbusier, also known as the Heidi Weber Museum on the shore of beautiful lake Zurich. In fact, there couldn’t have been a better venue! It was a triple celebration, because 2015 also marks the 50th anniversary since Le Corbusier’s death in 1965 and the founder of Centre Le Corbusier, Heidi Weber, was honoured during the event!
During the event we were given a tour of the building, got to network with industry partners and other design enthusiasts and were lucky enough to meet the multi-talented, highly successful interior designer and gallery owner Heidi Weber, who was officially honoured during the event. I personally had the opportunity to have a chat with this truly inspiring lady, who is a living example that perseverance is a sure path to greatness!
Heidi Weber, a great patron of Le Corbusier, was the one who had commissioned the exhibition pavilion in Seefeld, now called Centre Le Corbusier. It was his first and only building in German speaking Switzerland and it also turned out to be the master’s last work, as he passed away 2 years before its completion in 1967.
The building featuring a floating parasol-like roof structure is built from modular steel frame cubes and sits on a concrete floor. The structure is held together by 20’000 screws, yet Le Corbusier ironically referred to it as a ‘temporary’ structure! The structural steel framework and the pilotis, iconic of the Bauhaus period, allow for a completely open plan living space, spread over three levels including a roof terrace. However, it wasn’t only the highly modern structure, but also its orientation, which is diagonal to the neighbouring buildings and the boldly coloured enamel panels that revolutionized the upscale residential area of Seefeld in the 1960’s.
Le Corbusier was a pioneer of modern architecture, one of the founders of the Bauhaus style in the 1920’s and he also developed the residential housing design principles named ‘l’unité d’habitation’ (Housing unit). This movement of high density housing, which started after WWII, was also referred to as ‘Brutalist architecture’. The name derives from its prime material, ‘beton brut’ (raw concrete) and was highly criticised. Marseille in Southern France is home to some of the first and most important buildings of that time. The ‘Cité radieuse’ (the radiant city), features many a building, resembling an ocean liner and true to Le Corbusier’s most famous quote: ‘A house is a machine for living in.‘
Le Corbusier, however, also produced art and furniture. Heidi Weber started to exhibit his art in her studio and in the late 1950’s produced three of his chairs, which became an immediate success and are still in production today. It was thanks to this collaboration that she established a close friendship with Le Corbusier, which helped her to eventually convince him to design an exhibition pavilion in Seefeld.
Le Corbusier, though a mastermind of Modern architecture, was just one of many influential architects and designers that shaped the early 20th century and the decades thereafter. If you are interested to learn more about this fascinating period in terms of lifestyle, social history, design and architecture, take a look at my blog post Back in time – Early 20th century design including facts and figures, anecdotes and rumours of this revolutionary and glamorous era. Think ‘roaring 20’s’ and more…
Last but not least, I can highly recommend a visit to the Centre Le Corbusier and why not combine it with a visit to one of the many lovely Zurich cafés!
Wishing you all a colourful summer!
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Centre Le Corbusier Zurich