The Strick House remains famed Brazilian architect Oscar Niemeyer’s only completed residence in the United States. Barred from practicing architecture stateside on account of his leftist politics, Niemeyer was tapped to design the house in 1963 by filmmaker Joseph Strick. A fan of Niemeyer’s “high-flying imaginative architecture,” Strick proved sympathetic to Niemeyer’s predicament—having, himself, lived through the era of Hollywood’s blacklist—and conspired to circumvent the law. Strick sent Niemeyer aerial photographs of property along with topographical surveys, which Niemeyer used to draft up a t-shaped plan. Niemeyer ultimately oversaw production remotely, through phone calls and copious letter writing.
Oscar Niemeyer's Strick House in Santa Monica, California. Photograph by Richard Powers.
Three decades after construction, the house was put on the market in a state of woeful disrepair. A fellow architect, dubbed a “modernist missionary” by many, Michael Boyd stepped in to assume the mantle of ownership. Already a big-name collector and preservationist, to date Boyd has restored more than a dozen architectural landmarks and amassed 10,000 volumes of design books—not to mention an astounding collection of vintage masterpieces that spans American, Austrian, German, French and Scandinavian design traditions.
“Every sway is counteracted by, and simultaneously defined by, a straight or structural line.”
Cyclone™ Side Table in Oscar Niemeyer's Strick House in Santa Monica, California. Photograph by Scott Frances.
In furnishing Strick House, Boyd brought with him two-decades worth of furnishings in which Jean Prouvé, Pierre Chaubin, Serge Mouille, Charlotte Perriand, Gerrit Rietveld, George Nelson, Hans Wegner, Willy Guhl, Isamu Noguchi and Eero Saarinen all find company. Asked to explain the organizing principle behind his wide-ranging collection, Boyd said, “I consider it an archive of ideas.”
Tulip Stools at Oscar Niemeyer's Strick House in Santa Monica, California. Photograph by Scott Frances.
Prior to undertaking the daunting renovation, Boyd did his homework and consulted with the Niemeyer offices in Brasil—the architect was still alive at the time. Reflecting on the nature of Niemeyer's architecture, Boyd wrote, “Behind everything is a wave of lyricism; but this is held together by logical, and sometimes rectilinear, organization. Every sway is counteracted by, and simultaneously defined by, a straight or structural line.”
“From the house to the furniture, it’s all art to us.”
Cyclone™ Side Table in Oscar Niemeyer's Strick House in Santa Monica, California. Photograph by C. Hans Eckardt.
Scattered about Boyd’s newly restored quarters are a series of Cyclone™ Side Tables, designed by Isamu Noguchi, which function as dynamic accent pieces within the interior’s more rectilinear paradigm. In the living room, the Cyclone™ Side Tables are used to frame an overabundance of vintage film, design and art posters. No one element dominates within the carefully balanced composition, enabling Boyd’s unbridled passion to shine through each every object, “From the house to the furniture, it’s all art to us.”
Architecture: Oscar Niemeyer
Photography: Richard Powers, C. Hans Eckardt & Scott Frances