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The Craftsman: “Als Ik Kan”


Transcribed from The Craftsman magazine, October 1914:

A Model Atelier

Where we work is quite distinct from where we live. Not opposite, but different, and separated by the commute, whether by transit or foot. Artists and those few who work with limited staff and irregular schedules, however, are a different category altogether. A young architect — a sole practitioner — has recently begun his career in quarters that are much like a European atelier.

Our suburban and smaller communities are rife with two-story commercial fronts, most of them twenty-five feet to the street, to sunlight and fresh air. Fortunate is the corner site, such as we find here, with a long south-facing elevation. Here the second floor is divided into four office suites, each with fewer than seven hundred square feet, a special challenge if it is to be a studio-apartment.

The space is allocated symmetrically. But first a welcoming Dutch door and transom windows for borrowed light. Then, a comparatively generous reception room, sparsely furnished with a library table — to display work-in-progress — and burlap covered walls in a rosy ochre that speaks warmth on even the coolest day. A doorway and more transom glass reveal the next layer: the workroom itself, an octagon with storage of various sorts cleverly set in three of its corners. The fourth, to the left of the window bay, boasts a cozy fireplace of tapestry brick and copper hood. The hearth is of creamy firebrick.

The architect’s draughting table projects obliquely into the room. But it is hinged to become part of the wall, allowing three or four to consult. Here, also, the walls are a soft olive burlap enlivened by the spines of books variously bound in colored buckram or leather. Books cannot fail to add a note of goodwill to any room.

From the aforementioned reception area four doors, in pairs, lead to the left and right. On the left is a small kitchen joined with a sitting room. To the right, a bedroom and generous bath. The inner rooms are also lit with transoms as well as electroliers.

So much for space and purpose. We must now comment on the decor, which continues the use of burlap (save the kitchen and bath which are tiled) and trimmed in quarter-sawn oak. The floors are straight-grained fir. Rooms lit with wall sconces and table lamps emphasize intimacy and put light where it is needed. A few art works hang in simple oak or gilded frames and the floors are casually laid with jute and a few Navajo rugs from a recent southwestern family excursion.

The occupant of these pleasant quarters must take care, however, of over-filling his domain. But it will graciously welcome seasonal flowers, table linens, and a stained glass lamp when the time is right. Would that more of us could work in such surroundings.

The client is A. C. Tennant, an architect of Agincourt, Iowa, who has begun his practice only eighteen months previous.


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