People who live in glass houses shouldn't throw stones. And if that glass house has two 12-sided, almost circular, mostly door-less structures with precious few straight interior walls? Then hanging art, relying on conventional right-angled furniture and even closing the kitchen door to have a mid-dinner powwow with your better half are all pretty near impossible.
But Shannon and Peter Loughrey, owners of Los Angeles Modern Auctions, say those are minor grievances when compared with the novelty of living in their Encino hilltop home. The couple bought the house less than a year ago and have been settling into it during the run-up to their auction Sunday, which marks the anniversary of the business Peter founded 20 years ago.
Peter refers to the house — a 1972 design by the L.A. firm Benton/Park/Candreva — as "the kind of home Mike Brady would have built for some really eccentric clients."
"We moved from a 2,400-square-foot house into this 5,400-square-foot one, but because there are no straight walls and so much furniture already built into the design, there's very little you can actually put in here," Peter says. "And that is actually kind of liberating for a furniture dealer."
But it wasn't just the freedom from having to fill a home with the kind of highly collectible pieces that LAMA is known for selling, often at record-breaking prices. (Earlier this year, a Le Corbusier tapestry estimated to go for $40,000 to $60,000 ultimately sold for more than $130,000, and LAMA still holds the world's record for a Charles Eames and Eero Saarinen Conversation armchair prototype: $129,000, the most paid for any Eames chair.)
What remains the home's star is its circular shape, particularly the curved conversation pit just off the kitchen. That, the couple says, was the game-changer in terms of how they live and entertain.
"I am now a big believer in circular design from a social point of view," Peter says. "This home made me realize that it's so antisocial to have a square living room. The circular shape just seems to encourage communal conversation in this informal way. It's a kind of psychological thing that happens. You just put pillows on the floor, and people sit around, Indian-style, in a circle, it's like you're in school again. You feel younger, more intimate."
So how do you throw some curves into a conversation area? "You can create a curved, circular environment even if you don't live in a house that is that shape," Peter Loughrey says. "For the past 20 to 30 years, designers have been in a really rectangular mind-set. But in the '60s and early '70s, people started getting into the idea of round design."
Example No. 1: The Non Stop Sofa, a 1972 design by Ueli Berger, manufactured by De Sede. "This design can easily be shaped to any curve desired. I like it in a circle or semicircle configuration. This forces the sitter to face other sitters and helps induce conversation."
Loughrey also points to a round coffee table in his auction Sunday: a 1955 American black walnut design by George Nakashima. The purity of a perfect circle has elements of Eastern Zen simplicity and at the same time is a salute to Western Modern Reductionism," he said.
20TH ANNIVERSARY AUCTION
Where: Los Angeles Modern Auctions, 16145 Hart St., Van Nuys
When: Lots can be previewed 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Oct. 5 and 6; the auction starts at noon Sunday.
Information: (323) 904-1950, www.lamodern.com