Page 1


BioGRAPHY Easy Edges & Experimental Series Furniture 1970-1990 Vitra Design Museum, Weil-am-Rhein, Germany 1987-1989 Walt Disney Concert Hall, Los Angeles, CA 1989足-2004 National Nederlanden Building, Prague, Czech Republic 1992-1996 Guggenheim Museum, Bilbao, Spain 1997 Experience Music Project, Seattle, Washington 1999-2000 The New York Times, New York, NY 2000

I don’t know where you cross the line between architecture and sculpture. For me it is the same.

Biography 5

frank gehry was born in toronto, Canada in 1929. He studied at the Universities of Southern California and Harvard, before he established his ďŹ rst practice, frank o. gehry and associates in 1963. In 1979 this practice was succeeded by the ďŹ rm gehry & krueger Inc.

over the years, Gehry has moved away from a conventional commercial practice to a artistically directed atelier. his deconstructed architectural style began to emerge in the late 1970s when Gehry, directed by a personal vision of architecture, created collage-like compositions out of found materials. Instead of creating buildings, Gehry creates ad-hoc pieces of functional sculpture.

In the large-scale public commissions he has received since he converted to a deconstructive aesthetic, Gehry has explored the classical architecture themes. In these works he melds formal compositions with an exploded aesthetic. Most recently, Gehry has combined sensuous curving forms with complex deconstructive massing, achieving significant new results.

Easy Edges & Experimental Series Furniture 7

Easy Edges & Experimental Series Furniture Gehry’s inquisitive search for new ways of approaching conventional design challanges and achieving creative new solutions is by no means limited to the “mere” realm of architecture. The creation of the “ideal chair,” an age-old

deemed “edgeboard.” By cross-laminating the

challange that has confronted generations of

individual cardboard layers, a new furniture mate-

architects, designers, and furniture builders, also

rial was created that has the color, a perceived

whets his insatiable creatuve appetite. And in

warmth and a structural strength surprisingly

addition to rising to meet the theoretical desing

similar to real wood. In comparison with wood,

challenge of creating an “ideal chair, “ the chairs

“edgeboard” is easy to work with and inexpen-

of Gehry’s Easy Edges furniture series (1969-73)

sive and has the added advantage that is can

were conceived to be especially affordable and

be made with renewable resources and recylced

mass-producible and therefore available to a

paper products.

broad consumer market not only interested in design objects but also concerned mainly with buying attractive and especially affordable furniture.

But after the first production phase of the Easy Edges furniture series was complete Gehry was faced with the financial realities of the project

Using cardboard, a material that until then led a

and a major decision that would play a major in

dull life as packaging material destined to soon

his future career: Should he give up architecture

land on the nearest garbage heap, Gehry created

to pursue the furniture business? After difficult

a new material for furniture construction that he

persual of the possibilities and potentials offered

he decided to stick with his “day job” as an archi-

signs. originally conceived as furniture for a broad

tect and the Easy Edges series was taken out of

market, the original Easy Edges series went back

production. nonetheless, the challange of creating

into production to meet the demand presented by

the “ideal chair” continued to intrigue Gehry’s

an increasingly desing-conscious clientele. In the

creative mind. Six years after the Easy Edges

meantime, both the Easy Edges and Experimental

series went out of the first production phase

Edges series have achived status as design icons

Gehry conceived the Experimental Edges series

beloved by clients around the world. Both series

(1979-82), also fabricated in cardboard. For this

are currently manufactured by Vitra International.

series prefabricated cardboard panels typically used to make doors were glued together to create comfortably generous easy chairs.

By the end of the 1970s Gehry had already begun design of a new kind of lightweight wood furniture with the intention of overcoming the conventional

Gehry’s ever-increasing notoriety led to increased

separation between support elements and the

international demand for his unique furniture de-

actual seating surface that has characterized al-

Easy Edges & Experimental Series Furniture 9

“It was exciting because it was more instant. It was that direct link between intuition and product. It was closer to making art because I would do a sketch...

most all chair desings throughout time. And Gehry

design with skilled woodworkers on a day-to-day,

was still concerned with the notion of creating

hands-on basis and turn his visionary ideas into

something meaningful, elegant and creative using

the reality of the popular Bentwood furniture

everyday materials commonly used for other func-

series that has been successfully manufactured

tions, such as the wooden slats of apple crates

by knoll International since 1992.

that Gehry remembered seeing while growing up in his native Canada before moving to Southern California to study architecture at the University of Southern California in the 1950s. After thinking about the potentials for such a new, revolutionary chair design for several years, the knoll International Furniture Company set up a workshop right next to Gehry’s Santa Monica studio in 1989, allowing him to work intensely on the innovation

When I was a kid I used to see fruit delivered to the house in bushel baskets. I would sit on the baskets, which were bouncy, and when I started doing furniture, I remembered that and tried to emulate the bounciness.

Vitra Design Museum 13

VITRA DESIGN MUSEUM Using a palette of strongly architectonic forms, the formative ideas explored in his own house were further developed at a comprehensive urban scale in his design for the Loyola Law School.” The result was large-scale disparate elements dexterously juxtaposed—thrust inward or conversely pushing outward—against buildings and urban sculptural elements that themselves were formally not reconciled in a traditional sense. It further evidenced Gehry’s interest in the discreet interlock of disparate forms which, through collision and seeming disorder, somehow combine to create a presence in resolution—probably the basic reason why Cubism and Expressionism is so obviously his connection to Modernism. This is readily apparent in his Vitra Design Museum, a small, 8,000-square-foot building on two floors basically for the exhibit of

chairs, design, and educational programs. The building is a continuous changing swirl of white forms on the exterior, each seemingly without apparent relationship to the other, with its interiors a dynamically powerful interplay, in turn directly expressive of the exterior convolutions. As a totality it resolves itself into an entwined coherent display in much the same way that Gehry’s 1990 proposal for the American Center in Paris will likewise bring the disparate functional and spatial demands...into a more centralized though again a visually discordant, volumetric totality.

I do a different kind of drawing now.

the paper. It’s almost like I’m grinding into the paper, trying to find the building. It’s a like a sculptor cutting into the stone or marble, looking for the image.

Photograph/ Roland Halbe

Walt Disney Concert Hall 17

Sculpture As Architecture There was the role that this building would have in the city of Los Angels and in relation to the multiethnic population. They talked about “the body language of the building,” and the desire to make it inviting and accessible. It had to be bring you in, not put you off, so people walking down the street would not feel like this was Mount Olympus and they had to go through a formal experience to get into the inner sanctum. I believed and still believe that music is for everybody, and we all would like the multiethnic population to feel warm and welcome here. Part of Mr. Disney’s genius was to contact the masses rather than just be an elitist, so that fit and was something I agreed with. During the day, natural light is coming in. There are five light sources. There’s one in each corner that you don’t see. You see just shafts of light, not where it’s coming from. You just see it’s up there. There’s also one at the top of the highest balcony seats, the rearmost seats in the hall. thery’re designed so that as you walk up to your seats toward the rear of the auditorium, you go towards the light, which is again symbolically a beautiful idea.

Photograph/ Roland Hable

Walt Disney Concert 19 Walt Disney Concert HallHall 19

Frozen Music Music is very much like architecture. Architecture has been called frozen music and somebody asked me if that means that music is liquid architecture. I used to have season tickets, and I used to go every week. I went to music a lot before I got involved with the Philharmonic, and I go to a lot of concerts at the Philharmonic. I always have, even before Disney Hall was built. You can’t be interested in modern art without realizing something had to be going on in modern music. I look at the orchestra as a sculpture. Does that make sense? I look at it three-dimensionally. While I‘m listening to music, I’m looking at the forms of the people and the movement of the instruments. I study the violin and the cello and the bass. The exterior of the concert hall is clad in stainless steel panals. The building’s orientation, with the curving and folding exterior walls, present highly sculptural compositions as viewers move along adjacent streets and through the surrounding gardens and plazas. A backstage technical area surrounds the concert hall and opens onto a private garden for musicians.

“The approach to architecture should be like science, with breakthroughs that create new information, not repetition of old ideas.�

Photograph/ Thomas Mayer

National Nederlanden Building 21

Ginger, Fred, and the Wave My effort is to work contextually, but not to pander

really wanted to aim the street toward the bridge,

to tradition. I have other principles: living in my

and they asked if I would do something with the

time instead of in the past; interpreting what I see

building to project out so that the body language

and how I fit. I don’t consciously take Los Angeles

would be there. He negotiated with the city to do

with me. Maybe I do. I take me with me, whatever

that. The developer liked the idea because it gave

that is. I think Bilbao relates to there, and Prague

him a little extra area for the floor plate, which

relates to there. I wouldn’t have done those build-

was very small. It’s not an economical develope

ings in Los Angeles.

building because of its small floor plate.

I spent about ten days in Prague before I started re-

I thought we should make one tower that turns to

ally designing. I went over three times. I had a col-

the corner, to take us into the plaza, and then

laborative architect in Prague, Vladimir Milunic. He

another tower that fronts on the plaza that also

knew the ropes. My perception was that in Prague

pushes the street out. The first Prague model

they designed the old buildings with implied tow-

had two towers that were square. One projected

ers. They put little caps on top of them and gave

out. Then I blended them. Then I decided to make

them each a hat. That was interesting to me. That

one glass. The first model looked like a woman’s

was a clue. The other was that in the nineteenth

dress, and the Czechs made fun of me. They

century, the windows and other elements had de-

understand “abstraction” and they hate postmod-

tails that gave a certain texture to the buildings.

ernism. When they saw the dress they thought it

Even though they looked like they were stone, all

was postmodernism, and they gave me lectures

the buildings were colored plaster. I picked up

about abstraction. They didn’t understand where

clues from the plaster, and from whatever I saw.

I was going.

My building was on a square piece of land next to a river and a bridge. Vlado told me that the city

Photograph/ Thomas Mayer

National Nederlanden Building 23

Transparent Illusions I was struggling with the window breakup. In the adjacent nineteenth-century buildings, they became higher floor to floor. I had two more floors to deal with than were in the existing buildings. If I had just kept the windows flat, you would have read them as two more floors. I worried about that, because it would have been abrupt. So I thought, how can I make blurry edges so you don’t realize that there are more floors? I started making the model, and I started to push the windows up and down. I pushed one up to the top of the ceiling and one down to the floor. Then I built it on the model, and the texture of it fit in, so I knew it was all right. Then I drew the lines to add another layer of texture. That’s something I’d never done. I got self-conscious about it after I drew the lines, and I thought, “Well, this is stupid; it’s kind of a pastiche—you can’t do that.” Then I straightened out all of the lines, and they didn’t look good. So in the end I said, “Well, my instinct was right, and I don’t know why.” We maintained the height line. The old buildings have five floors, and mine has seven, so I couldn’t just go straight across. that’s why I bumped the windows up and down—to blur the difference.


Guggenheim Museum Bilbao 25

The Bilbao Effect Titanium is buttery. If you look at sterling silver silverware, the knife blade is stainless and the handle is sterling. The sterling silver part looks buttery, just like titanium does, whereas the stainnless steel knife blade is cold. I’d also seen big titanium catings made for the 747 airplane, and I remembered remarking on how buttery they were. They had a warmth to them. I took that piece of titanium, and I nailed it on the telephone pole in front of my office, just to watch it and see what it did in the light. Whenever I went in and out of the office, I’d look at it. As it happened, the day that I tacked it up, it rained in LA, which was unusual, because it wasn’t the rainy season. The little metal square went golden in the gray light, and I had another one of those Eureka! moments.

Photograph/ Hisao Suzuki

Guggenheim Museum Bilbao 27

sEx appEal herbert Muschamp’s review in the new york times described the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao as a sort of reincarnation of Marilyn Monroe. he said that both stood for an American style of freedom, which he described as “Voluptuos, emotional, intuitive, and exhibitionist. It is mobile, fluid, material, mercurial, fearless, radiant and as fragile as a newborn child... And when the impulse strikes, it likes to let its dress fly up in the air.” I don’t consciously create a skirt to go under. I think it just comes up and it’s obvious. But I’m a guy, sex and women are on my mind. Sometimes I can help it, but not always. And I’m not the only one who does it. I think there’s a lot of sexual energy that goes into the design of a building, and I think it’s good energy. I‘m not doing it consciously, but when I see it, I don’t edit it out. Let’s put it that way, I’m not self-conscious about it. I like to look at sailboats and regattas too, and I like the images of artists like Turner and Van der Velde. Sails make beautiful spaces. After I finished Disney hall, I saw it as wing on wing. But it’s never intentional. It’s in the DnA.

The Experience Music Project 29

arE you ExpEriEncEd? Dedicated to Jimi hendrix and commissioned by Paul Allen, The Experience Music Project is an exciting blend of exhibits, technology, media, and hands-on activities that combines the interpretive aspects of a traditional museum, the educational role of a school, the state-of-the-art research facilities of a specialized library, and the audience-drawing qualities of performance venues and popular attractions. The Experience Music Project has six elements— the Sky Church, the Crossroads, the Sound Lab, the Artist’s Journey, the Electric Library, and the Ed. house. The Sky Church, a concept inspired by Jimi hendrix, represents the coming together of all types of people united by the power and joy of music and music making. It is physically embodied in the building’s central public gathering area. The building itself consists of a cluster of colorful curving elements clad in painted aluminum panels and in stainless steel panels. The fragements and undulating forms of the building are inspired in part by a shattered Fender Stratocaster. The Seattle Center Monorail, passes through the building, allowing monorail riders to glimpse inside.


The Experience Music Project 31

a 3d Floating puzzlE I’m still interested in objects in a field, like villages, but I don’t see that idea rigidly applied. I think you can see it in the Experience Music Project, where I started out with separate blocks that the client, Paul Allen, liked. That’s the village. If you look at the first models, I was making it more coherent. he didn’t like that. he liked the models where I broke it down. I did too, actually. And when I broke it apart, I liked what was going on. Essentially, the building is a one-room warehouse with exhibits inside, and that makes it difficult to break down. My working process is an evolution, like watching paint dry. This is where I get in trouble with misconceptions about how I work. nobody realizes that I cut it off at the working drawings and stop. During the front end it evolves. The building itself consists of a cluster of colorful curving elements clad in painted aluminum panels and in stainless steel panels. The fragements and undulating forms of the building are inspired in part by a shattered Fender Stratocaster. The Seattle Center Monorail, passes through the building, allowing monorail riders to glimpse inside.


The New York Times Headquarters 33

the lower levels of this building to be read as two midrise towers that are more appropriate in scale to the surrounding mid-rise buildings and allows the upper levels of the building to be read as a slender tower. A continuous glass curtain wall unifies the lower and upper levels of the building.


The primary entry to The New York Times lobby is

In the summer of 2000, The New York Times and For-

located on Eighth Avenue at the crack in the fa-

est City Ratner Companies conducted an invited

Çade. From the lobby, the newsroom, which serves

competition to select an architect for the design of

as the heart of the company’s news reporting

an office building located on Eighth Avenue between

operations, is immediately visible. The newsroom

40th and 41st Streets in Manhattan. Gehry Part-

is articulated as a series of open spaces on mut-

ners, LLP, working in collaboration with the New

liple levels ultimately culminating in a cafeteria

York of Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, were invited to

and winter garden.

participate in the competition. The design of the newsroom permits direct access Fundamental programmatic requirements dictated

from nearly all areas on the lower levels of the

that the building provide approximately 65,000-

building and provides a visual presence befitting

84,000 square meters of office space designed

its significance. A private lobby serving the specu-

specifically to fulfill the unique needs of The New

lative office levels is accessed through primary

York Times, including a newsroom of approxiam-

entries on 40th and 41st Streets. Winter gardens

tely 15, 800 square meters (170,000 square

are located at each massing setback. providing

feet), and that the building provide approximately

unique amenities for building tenants.

55,750 square meters (600,000 square feet) of speculative office space.

At the uppermost levels of the building, a more sculptural architectural language is employed articulat-

The overall massing of the building is developed as

ing the crown of the building as an abstraction of

a series of setbacks with larger floor plates at the

The New York Times logo and providing a signature

lower levels of the building and a series of repeti-

presence on the Manhattan skyline.

tive smaller floor plates at the upper levels of the building. The larger floor plates at the lower levels of the building are devoted exclusively to use by The New York Times, and the smaller floor plates at the upper levels of the building are devoted to speculative office space. A crack in the center of the Eighth Avenue faÇade running from street level to mid-rise level, allows

The New York Times Headquarters 35

“I think my best skill as an architect is the achievement of hand-to-eye coordination. I am able to transfer a sketch into a model into the building.” My favorite time when working on buildings is when I have the plans and the scale right for both the neighbohood and the project in block form, before I make these curved shapes, before I do anything. When I get to that point, I feel comfortable that this is where we’re going to go and the next move is just to finish the detailing, materials, and character of the shapes. It’s what I call being in the candy store, because that’s the fun part. It’s also the most scary part because it’s the unknown. I start sketching and trying things until, all of a sudden, something emerges that becomes interesting and I sort of follow it. But it’s intuitive. It’s not preconceived. I don’t have an exact plan of action, and I always feel like I’m leaping off a cliff.

Exhibit works

Easy Edges

ARchitectural Models

Vitra Museum and Gehry International

Gehry Partners, LLP office with study models

Prototype for High Sticking side chair, 1989. Bent laminated maple frame, maple veneer, metal screws 33 x 23 x 23 1/4 inches

Sketches and design model for Walt Disney Concert Hall, 1987.

Prototype for High Sticking side chair, 1990. Bent laminated maple, metal binder posts 43 x 20 x 21 inches

Sketches and process models for Guggenheim Museum Bilbao, 1992.

High Sticking side chair, 1991. Bent laminated maple 43 x 20 1/8 x 21 1/8 inches

Final design model for Guggenheim Museum Bilbao, 1994.

Experimental Woven Pillows, 1989. Maple veneer, metal rivets 15 x 26 x 25 1/2 inches Prototype for Power Play armchair, 1990. Bent laminated maple, plywood, metal screws 36 1/2 x 35 1/2 x 30 inchces Prototype for Power Play armchair, 1991. Bent laminate maple 34 x 20 x 21 1/4 inches Prototype for Hat Trick side chair, 1990. Bent laminated maple, metal screws 341/4 x 19 1/4 x 22 1/2 inches Prototype for Hat Trick side chair, 1990. Bent laminated maple, plywood, metal binder posts 32 1/2 x 20 x 21 inches Hat Trick side chair, 1991. Bent laminated maple 33 1/2 x 19 1/4 x 21 3/4 inches Hat Trick side chair, 1991. Bent laminated maple 33 1/2 x 24 1/4 1/4 x 21 3/4 inches Prototype for Cross Check armchair, 1991. Bent laminated maple 33 1/8 x 26 x 25 1/2 inches

Evolving glass tower models for Nationale Nederlanden Building, 1992.

Sketches and process models for Guggenheim Museum Bilbao, 1993.

Sketch and design process model series of the sound lab demonstration area for The Experience Music Project, 1995. Design model for New York New York, 2000.

Illustration Credits Gehry Partners, LLP Empire Studios Frank Gehry Sam Gehry

Exhibit photography Accademia, Florence, Itlay/Scala/Art resource, new York

Ultan Guilfoyle

Peter A;exander Studio, Photo: Brian Forrest

Lucien herve, research Library, Getty research Institute, Los Angeles. Artists rights.

Charles Arnoldi Studio, Photo: Jacob Melchi Artifice Images, Photo: Earl Morsund Billy Al Bengston Studio, Photo: Samuel Freeman Alex Berliner © Berliner Studio/BEImages Professor Caroline Black Print Collection, Connecticut College Lindsay Ljungkull Clark Columbia Archives, Columbia, Maryland Condè nast Publications, Photo: roger Dong Dia Center for the Arts, new York. Art © Judd Foundation. licensed by VAGA, new York. Photo: Stewart Tyson

hollywood Bowl Museum Collection Musuem Associates/Los Angeles County Museum of Art Thomas Mayer/ The Metropolitan Museum of Art/Art resource, new York Issey Miyake, Photo: Paul Warchol The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles. Art © rauchenberg Estate/Licensed by VAGA, new York Julius Shulman Photography Archive, research Library, Getty research Instititute, Los Angeles

Empire Studios

ThE SIMPSonS™ & ©2005 Twentieth Century fox Film Corporation. All rights reserved

Sidney B. Felson

Tiffany & Co,. Photo: richard Pierce

Galleria Borghese, rome, Itlay. Photo: Alinari/Art resource, new York

Coll. Marco Valsecchi, Milan, Italy. © 2008 Artists rights Society (ArS), new York

Gil Garcetti

Michael Webb

Frank Gehry

Don F. Wong

Courtesy of Frank Gehry Gehry Partners, LLP robert Graham Studio The Solomon r. Guggenheim Foundation, new York, Photos: David heald

Gehry Partners, LLP 12541 Beatrice Street Los Angeles, CA 90066 vox 310.482.3000 fax 310.482.3006


Isenberg, Barbara. Conversations with Frank Gehry.

Mathewson, Casey C.M. Frank O. Gehry: Selected

New York: Random House, 2009 ISBN 978-0-307-

Works: 1969 to Today. New York: Firefly Books Inc.

26800-6 p118, 120, 121, 125, 143, 154.

2007 ISBN 3-1223-07762-4816 page 50, 128

Friedman, Mildred., Ed. Gehry Partners with an es-

Robert A. M. Stern. Modern Classicism. New York:

say by Michael Sorkin and commentaries by Frank

Rizzoli International Publications, 1988. ISBN

O. Gehry. Gehry Talks: Architecture & Process. New

0-8478-0848-3. NA682.C55. P90.

York: Universe Publishing, 2002. ISBN 0-78930682-4 p194, 195,169, 170, 171. Arnell, Peter., Ed. and Ted Bickford., Ed. Frank Gehry: Buildings and Projects. New York: Rizzoli, 1987 ISBN 0-8478-0542-5 Kurt W. Forster, Hadley Soutter Arnold, Francesco Dal Co. Frank O. Gehry : The Complete Works. Monacelli Press, September 1998. ISBN 1-8852-5463-6. Davidson, Ellen., Ed. Frank Gehry: New Bentwood Furniture Designs [Exhibition]. Hanks & Associates for the Montreal Museum of Decorative Arts. Montreal, Canada: The Lake St. Louis Historical Society, 1992 ISBN 2-920746-04-9 p241. Boissiere, Olivier. The Vitra Design Museum, Frank Gehry Architect. New York: Rizzoli, 1990 ISBN 0-8478-1199-9 Celant, Germano. Frank O. Gehry: Since 1997. New York: Rizzoli, 2009 p313, 315, 318.

Dennis Sharp. The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Architects and Architecture. New York: Quatro Publishing, 1991. ISBN 0-8230-2539-X. NA40.I45. p62. “Gehry at MIT”, by Michael J. Crosbie, ArchitectureWeek No. 198, 2004.0623, pD1.1. “Gehry’s Disney Concert Hall”, by ArchitectureWeek, ArchitectureWeek No. 175, 2003.1217, pD1.1.

Exhibitions on View Summer/Fall 2012 Building A, Fort Mason Center, San Francisco, CA 94123 415-441-4777 415.357.4000

Back Cover -Black cardboard

Frank Gehry, Out of Chaos  
Frank Gehry, Out of Chaos  

This art exhibit catalog is my contribution on a design team that created identity for an art exhibit on famous architect, Frank Gehry. The...