Our appetite for Modernist architecture continues to grow. Decades after its post-WWII heyday, the style has inspired legions of devotees with its purist ethos. And it’s easy to see why.
Flowing space, a lack of ornamentation and truth to materials were just a few of Modernism’s battle cries, as was the mantra ‘form follows function’ and a symbiosis between indoor and outdoor spaces. These still resonate today.
Le Corbusier took things to the extreme, imagining homes as ‘machines for living in’, but Modernism acquired its own local nuances as it crossed continents and decades. Consider the sober Bauhaus buildings of Walter Gropius in Germany alongside the curvaceous, space age homes of John Lautner in California.
Now a growing breed of estate agents are establishing themselves as the style’s bastions. This rabble of realtors are the go-to sources for buying Modernist properties across the world.
Was there ever a name so apt? This international website cherry-picks residential architecture for its credentials and aesthetics. Expect John Lautner-designed ranch homes alongside International style houses by Philip Johnson.
Be aware, this site is not for Modernist purists. AFS dips into a myriad of architectural styles, but midcentury architecture is the dominant theme. Among our favourites is Johnson’s Wiley House in Connecticut (above) and Pierre Koenig’s 1966 design The Henbest-Birkett Residence in California.
Modern House, Australia
Australia has an abundance of Modernist architecture, a fact this realtor champions proudly.
Modern House – not to be confused with the similarly titled UK estate agent, The Modern House – was founded by former advertising creative Marcus Lloyd-Jones in 2012, who has a discerning eye. Firstly, he only sells architect-designed residences (usually around the Sydney area). Secondly, the site treats each house as a research project, delving into its history and pedigree and presenting each property as a ‘book’ for interested buyers – and curious readers.
You won’t find hundreds of listings on this site, but the ones you do are gems. ‘What they share in common are extraordinary spaces (great and small) perfectly tuned to their climate and setting, and crafted for living life,’ MH say.
If ever an estate agent has raised the bar for selling property, it’s The Modern House. Back in 2005, Albert Hill and Matt Gibberd, stepped out of the editorial world – including magazines Wallpaper* and The World of Interiors respectively – to create their specialist agency for Modernist and contemporary homes in the UK.
Hallmarks of the duo’s life as mag-men can be read in every single listing: shot by professional architectural photographers and accompanied colourful details about the building’s history.
All their properties – whether from the 1930s or 2016 – follow core Modernist ideas about flowing space, natural light, truth to materials, and the relationship between architecture and its environment. Styles range from this dinky 1930s apartment by Howes & Jackman to a sprawling 1960s home by an unsung hero, Peter Foggo.
Well, it would hardly advertise selling insignificant houses now would it?
Realtor Douglas Newby’s ‘Significant Homes’ website is on the ‘old skool’ side but what it lacks in swish web design, it makes up for in architectural clout.
The Dallas-based realtor pulls in some of Texas’ best houses on the market, of which midcentury modern is a dominant strand, like this 1951 home by local architects Hidell and Decker (pictured). There’s also a lovingly compiled section breaking down the individual facets of the Texas Modern aesthetic.
The US capital might be best known for its Neo-classical structures, but there are plenty of midcentury treasures to be found. Journalist-turned-realtor Michael Shapiro specialises in selling Modernist properties across Maryland, Virginia and Washington DC.
As a ‘one-man-band’ kind of a operation, Modern Capital is more spartan than some of the larger agencies on this list, but we’ve included it because you’d be hard pressed to find a better curation of Potomac midcentury residencies out there. Currently listed is local architect James Grieves’ own 1960s Modernist home, fully restored and on the market for $679,000.
An extra bonus is Shapiro’s neighbourhood guide, picking out midcentury modern hot spots across the states.
Los Angeles was an early adopter of the Modernist style and has become one of its richest enclaves in North America. Modern Living LA specialises in selling Modernist homes across the city, from the Hollywood Hills to Silverlake and Beverly Hills.
There’s a certain ‘Hollywood sheen’ to the houses it presents – think Mad Men or check out its Instagram if you don’t know what we mean – which are designed by the likes of Raphael Soriano, Craig Elwood, R.M. Schindler, John Lautner, Carl Maston and Buff & Hensman.
This $3.85 million self-confessed ‘midcentury marvel’ by Case Study architect Rodney Walker is currently taking our fancy.
‘We find, showcase and sell modern homes. Period.’ So says 360 Modern, which is dedicated to classic Modern (1920s-1970s) and contemporary Modern properties in Washington, particularly in Seattle and Tacoma.
Its ‘featured homes’ section collates the most startling examples on its books, including this glass and steel A-frame property by Sandler-Kilburn Architects and 1966 beach-house home by William Bain Jr. The blog is also worth a browse, with posts on upcoming auctions, books and tips for refurbishing midcentury homes.