Do you have a favorite building? Perhaps the Louvre because of that romantic weekend you spent in Paris? Or a stone castle in Ireland where you shot your best golf game? My husband's favorite is Monticello, Thomas Jefferson's masterpiece, because of its mix of history, classicism and garden design. My favorite building is the Chrysler Building, not only for its Art Deco tower but because my father's office was located there after we moved back to the States.
Recently, the American Institute of Architects commissioned a survey that asked 2000 "ordinary" people to pick 150 favorite buildings and structures. The Empire State Building, the White House and the World Trade Center all placed in the top 20. Absent from this ranking were many famous buildings like Ludwig Mies Van der Rohe's Seagram Building and New Canaan's own Glass House by Philip Johnson. Perhaps most shocking, the poll names the Bellagio in Las Vegas the top-rated building of the last decade! What does this say about American taste? I've been to the Bellagio and it is comfortable and extravagant (not an easy combination to achieve) but is it worthy of this list? I'll let you decide. If nothing else, the survey does point out that ordinary Americans are not fans of contemporary architecture.
So, how do we explain what is happening in our kitchens? Many of us in Connecticut are traditionalists at heart yet we embrace the new and modern in our kitchens. What is it about contemporary appliances and cabinetry that makes even the most traditional person go weak in the knees? What is it about matte-finish, brushed-aluminum appliances that make us think that they are "better"? Do we somehow equate new and modern as superior? Of course we believe all the new technology will make our lives easier. In fact, a few cabinet manufacturers asked sports car designers to tackle their newest lines. I guess that feeling of power we get with a high-performance vehicle is the feeling we crave when we light up the burner to boil water for pasta!
The three modern kitchens we feature this month are all housed in traditional homes. But I continue to ask myself: Why have we not allowed the modern aesthetic to move into other rooms? In fact, why haven't we embraced modern architecture with the same vigor? The simple answer might be that many of us did not grow up in modern homes. We don't have memories based in those spaces. If our favorite buildings are saturated with emotion and experience then the New Year is an opportunity to savor modern with an open mind and a calendar full of possibilities!
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