John Lautner-Designed Homes

You’ve probably seen the inside of architect John Lautner’s homes, but you may not have realized it.

That’s because this famous mid-century American architect’s stunning space-age homes (including the Elrod House, pictured above) serve perfectly as movie sets: they’re dramatic, make a huge visual impact and frankly, they don’t look like anything else on earth. A lucky few, like publisher Benedikt Taschen, have made their home inside these iconic cinematic sets.

Trained by Frank Lloyd Wright and with a career spanning over 50 years, Lautner established his practice in Los Angeles. His style is often categorized as “organic modernism” and feels warmer than designs by contemporaries Richard Neutra or Rudolph Schindler. Lautner houses are beautiful for their looks alone, but it’s fun to discover which movies were filmed there.

The Elrod House in Palm Springs housed villainous gymnasts, Bambi and Thumper, in Diamonds are Forever.

Every detail of Tom Ford’s stylish movie debut, A Single Man, was gorgeously rendered, including Colin Firth’s abode, the Schaffer house in Verdugo Hills, California. Unbelievably, this house stood idle on the market for four years until it was sold for $1.3 million in December 2012.

Lautner grew up in Michigan and missed being surrounded by nature while living in L.A. (“I mean, when I first drove down Santa Monica Boulevard, it was so ugly I was physically sick for the first year I was here,” he said) and was always trying to reestablish the connection, which he did with the Sheats-Goldstein House, built between 1961-63 near Beverly Hills. The house appeared in Charlie’s Angels: Full Throttle and The Big Lebowski. The wedge window makes this photogenic beauty a sought-after location for fashion shoots, too.

Pool windows allowed the original owner, artist Helen Sheats, to watch her five children as she worked in her studio below the pool.

Lautner’s Silvertop, in L.A.’s trendy Silver Lake area, stepped in as the home of protagonist Andrew McCarthy in the ’80s flick, Less Than Zero. The 7,500-square-foot house was one of Lautner’s favourites and was designed to follow the contour of the hilltop, so that the original owner could have a view from the ocean to the hills.

The rainbow-shaped Garcia House, built in 1962 above Mulholland Drive in the Hollywood Hills, was famously pulled down off its stilts into the canyon in Lethal Weapon II.

The octagonal Chemosphere, now owned by Benedikt Taschen of Taschen books, was dubbed “the most modern home built in the world,” by Encyclopedia Britannica. Built in 1960, this spacey flying saucer hovers over what was considered an unbuildable site and is reached by funicular. It appeared in Brian De Palma’s Body Double, served as the lair of pornographer Jackie Treehorn in The Big Lebowski, and was even parodied as hack actor Troy McClure’s home in The Simpsons.

See more mid-century architecture with a video tour of this Montreal loft.

Photo credits:
1. The New York Times, photography by Joshua White/Hammer Museum
2. Los Angeles Conservancy
3. Eclectitude blog
4. Creative Republic blog
5. Living With Style blog
6. Watershapes blog
7. Los Angeles Modern Architecture
8. Los Angeles Times Magazine, photography by François Dischinger
9. Trackfindings blog

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