A Modernist's work that made waves

Times Staff Writers

PROGRESSIVE use of bent steel and aluminum as well as alternative design ideas for the masses earned architect and furniture maker Jean Prouvé (1901-1984) the moniker of "the Charles Eames of France." Starting Sunday, the Modernist's enduring concepts can be seen in a new Museum of Contemporary Art exhibition. "Jean Prouvé: Three Nomadic Structures" spotlights furniture, photographs and other items related to Prouvé's prefabricated buildings: the Glassmaking School in Croismare, France; the Tropical House, originally installed in Congo and Niger; and the Aluminum Centenary Pavilion, an exhibition hall in France. Unrestored furniture and architectural elements in the show — including a long, white wall light, a green wall panel and the Kangaroo armchair, shown here on a blue "displayscape membrane" by Evan Douglis — confirm Prouvé's commitment to technological innovation. The show runs through Nov. 27 at MOCA's space at the Pacific Design Center in West Hollywood; (310) 289-5223; http://www.moca.org . Want to see more? Design Within Reach and Vitra have reissued signature Prouvé tables, chairs and a lamp.



Nickel's black magic

When it comes to refinishing lighting fixtures and furniture hardware, the gold standard has long been polished nickel. Now, it appears, the look has taken a darker, sexier turn. With all the glistening glamour of polished hematite, black nickel has become a classic on the sleek Italian furnishings at Minotti, which prominently features the luxury metal on its $2,102 Munch table. (Gucci designer Tom Ford has a pair.) Lighting designer Rico Espinet also uses the fabulous finish on the Copa, a 12-arm chandelier he created for Robert Abbey Inc.; for pricing, call (828) 322-3480. For an entry-level introduction, try black nickel candlesticks such as this one, priced from $45 a pair at Village Heights in Larchmont Village, (323) 463-9410.



The focus is on Shulman

The ostensible occasion was a fundraiser for Fashion Group International's scholarship program, but any opportunity to visit legendary architectural photographer Julius Shulman is enough. Shulman, 94, held an open house Sunday with his niece, FGI member Timmy Woods. "I moved here in 1950," Shulman said of his cork-floored L.A. house by Raphael Soriano, "and we've been having parties ever since." Architect Leo Marmol spoke, as did editors from Dwell and W, but the fashionable throng circled the lens man. Announcing a forthcoming follow-up to his book "Modernism Rediscovered," Shulman also disclosed plans to publish something on food and architecture in '06. "What's all this nonsense about carbs?" he asked. "I've been eating sugar and cream all my life and look at me."



A screen gem opens to a new audience

Rodney Walker may not have been the most famous architect in the post-WWII Case Study House program, but he was the only one who built his own designs. Consequently, says his son, Craig Walker, "he understood the problem of creating private spaces in an open floor plan." Walker's solution, shown here in a photo of the 1957 Walker home in Ojai, was an accordion screen with translucent panels. Craig Walker has decided to reproduce his dad's furniture, beginning with the Walker Room Divider, an alder screen that stands 6 feet 8 inches tall and comes with three panels ($1,500) or six panels ($2,800). A mahogany version and custom sizes also are available. Walker Modern Homes, (805) 798-1573 or walkermodernhomes.com.

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