Edge of Danger: electric light and the negotiation of public and private domestic space in Philip Johnson's Glass and Guest House

Petty, Margaret Maile (2010) Edge of Danger: electric light and the negotiation of public and private domestic space in Philip Johnson's Glass and Guest House. Interiors, 1(3), pp. 197-218.

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In the first half of the twentieth century the dematerializing of boundaries between enclosure and exposure problematized traditional expectations of the domestic environment. At the same time, as a space of escalating technological control, the modern domestic interior also offered new potential to redefine the meaning and means of habitation. The inherent tension between these opposing forces is particularly evident in the introduction of new electric lighting technology and applications into the modern domestic interior in the mid-twentieth century. Addressing this nexus of technology and domestic psychology, this article examines the critical role of electric lighting in regulating and framing both the public and private occupation of Philip Johnson's New Canaan estate. Exploring the dialectically paired transparent Glass House and opaque Guest House, this study illustrates how Johnson employed electric light to negotiate the visual environment of the estate as well as to help sustain a highly aestheticized domestic lifestyle. Contextualized within the existing literature, this analysis provides a more nuanced understanding of the New Canaan estate as an expression of Johnson's interests as a designer as well as a subversion of traditional suburban conventions.

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2 citations in Scopus
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ID Code: 94956
Item Type: Journal Article
Refereed: Yes
Keywords: Interiors, Modernism, Architectural lighting, Gender, Philip Johnson, The Glass Hosue
DOI: 10.2752/204191210X12875837764057
ISSN: 2041-9112
Copyright Owner: Copyright 2010 Taylor & Francis
Deposited On: 14 Apr 2016 23:58
Last Modified: 18 Apr 2016 06:31

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