Edmund de Waal to stage architectural intervention in LA modernist masterpiece

Edmund de Waal masterpiece house
MAK Center at West Hollywood’s Schindler House, 2014, view from the rear yard, Courtesy of MAK Center
(Image credit: Joshua White)

When West Hollywood’s Schindler House was conceived in 1922, it proposed a radical, Bauhausian mode of dwelling for Los Angeles – remarkable not for what it had, but for what it didn’t. It cracked convention by doing away with defined living spaces, favouring a modular format, ultimately a prototype designed for two young families to coexist seamlessly.

From 15 September, the residence – now home to the MAK Center for Art and Architecture – will once again become a new form of dwelling, this time for the work of Edmund de Waal as he stages his first architectural intervention in the US. But the British artist is no stranger to the allure of the so-called Kings Road House.

‘I’ve had a photograph of the Schindler on my wall for about 20 years,’ he told Wallpaper* in 2016 in the run up to ‘ten thousand things’, an exhibition featuring hundreds of black-glazed vessels married with lumps of raw material housed nine miles down the road in Gagosian’s Beverly Hills gallery. The show paid homage to American composer and music theorist John Cage, and a six-month residency he undertook at Schindler House in the early 1930s. (At the time, the home was ‘the focus of constant social gatherings’ in LA’s creative community, with the likes of Frank Lloyd Wright and Edward Weston drifting through.)

Schindler, 2018, by Edmund de Waal, porcelain vessel and alabaster block in a gilded aluminium vitrine

(Image credit: Edmund de Waal)

Schindler, 2018, by Edmund de Waal, porcelain vessel and alabaster block in a gilded aluminium vitrine

Renowned for his large-scale porcelain ‘pot’ installations arranged in clusters with a signature celadon glaze, de Waal has become a key interlocutor between Japanese and Western aesthetic traditions. The forthcoming exhibition, ‘one way or other’, will be a sensorium directly reflecting the Schindler’s integrated environment, materiality and spirit. A soundscape conceived in collaboration with composer Simon Fisher Turner will accompany an array of the artist’s most recent creations.

For the architect Rudolph Schindler, the most important question was ‘whether a house is really a house’; this meant countering ostentatious décor and soulless mass-manufacturing methods. To wit, the house was conceived in a shared vision with his then-wife, Pauline, as a striking commentary on the art of living through the use of few materials. Underappreciated in his time, the pioneer of 20th-century modernist architecture created experiential spaces that exceeded the sum of their minimal parts.

The purpose of Schindler’s space, says de Waal, was ‘to reset the conditions in which a modern family could live and experiment’. The exhibition will see de Waal tap further into the architect’s ethos, exploring the boundaries of revisionist domesticity almost a century after the pioneering house was realised. 


‘one way or other’ is on view at the Schindler House from 15 September – 6 January. An exhibition of works by Edmund de Waal, ‘the poems of our climate’, is on view at Gagosian San Francisco from 20 September – 3 November. For more information, visit the MAK Center for Art & Architecture website and the Gagosian website


Schindler House
835 North Kings Road
West Hollywood
Los Angeles CA 90069


Harriet Lloyd-Smith was the Arts Editor of Wallpaper*, responsible for the art pages across digital and print, including profiles, exhibition reviews, and contemporary art collaborations. She started at Wallpaper* in 2017 and has written for leading contemporary art publications, auction houses and arts charities, and lectured on review writing and art journalism. When she’s not writing about art, she’s making her own.