This post is a labor of love for my husband. We were watching an episode of House Hunters: Renovation last night, and the artsy couple featured mentioned “Eichler” when they were looking at this funky mid-century modern house. “Oh, hey now,” said The Greek, “we’ll have to look that up later.” He is a sucker for mid-century modern, clean lines, German engineering and (surprise) Apple products… and he loves to know things.
I am a sucker for the Scandinavian modern aesthetic. (Well, part of me is. I’m like that Chaka Khan lyric, “I’m every woman, it’s all in me”… pick a day and you’ll get a warm country look, on another day you’ll get Swedish modern. Imagine how much fun I am to be married to.) So a part of me loves that stark white look with splashes of color (see below). I think we can combine our two styles into something great one day.
… but back to Eichler (for my husband and other curious souls).
Joseph Eichler was a post-war real estate developer who built 9 communities in the San Francisco Bay area and 3 in the Los Angeles area. His planned communities integrated parks and community centers for middle-class homebuyers, while also establishing non-discrimination policies for the sale of his homes based on religion or race. His first homes were designed by Robert Anshen, a Frank Lloyd Wright disciple, and made “Eichlers” revolutionary modern masterpieces.
Eichlers used post-and-beam construction rather than the traditional stick construction. This enabled the use of vast expanses of glass, which brought the outdoors in, a style of building is also called “California Modern”. They also featured other innovations such as concrete slab flooring with radiant heat, sliding doors for rooms and closets and a standard master bath.
Eichlers are prized today for their open floor plans, flat or low-sloping roofs, few (if any) front/street facing windows, and floor-to-ceiling glass walls, including glass transoms and atriums.
My husband would be interested to know that Steve Jobs claimed to have grown up in an Eichler home, which “instilled in him a passion for making nicely designed products for the mass market”. In fact, he grew up in an Eichler competitor’s structure… but Apple co-founder Steve Woziak did, if fact, grow up in an Eichler in Sunnydale, California. (What is funny is that I had written that my husband is an Apple products lover before I had even read this factoid – the styling influences must have gotten through to me).
In my travels to learn more about Eichler, I tracked down a 45-minute documentary, even. Enjoy, baby!
(click here to be taken to the Vimeo link (larger screen))