Is it Japanese?

Gamble House photo by Bernardo Grijalva

Gamble House photo by Bernardo Grijalva

Gamble House photo by Bernardo Grijalva

I’m sure that the Green brothers drew part of their inspiration from the East when they designed the Gamble House, also known as the David B. Gamble House was constructed around 1908 to be used as a winter home for the Gamble Family.

The mild climate of Southern California along with a spaciousness of the west made this area of Pasadena an attractive retreat for the well to do from the harsh cold winters of the East. Modest in it size by today’s standards of what a single family home should feel like for an affluent family. The Gamble House has been referred to as the archetypical American Art and Craftsman example of architecture and response to the formal highly ornate Victorian aesthetic. A complete contradiction to all things spindly, covered in paint with line that mirror those of ancient Greece, the American Art and Craftsman movement was made popular by furniture designer and publisher Gustav Stickely during the early 1900’s.

Minimalist in nature when compared to the highly decorative standard of what architecture should look like for the time. The Green brother’s were forward thinking in their approach to embrace the simple natural spirit of the Orient. Leaving the materials exposed and allowing for the rugged craftsmanship of the joinery and metal work be admired, I can’t help but think of how admirable it would be to live in a chic downtown loft, with it’s exposed beams and brick work.

My quick detour from a vacation trip to the sunny south made the visit to this area of Pasadena, a real treat. Armed only with my trusty DP1 point and shoot, I was somewhat worried about the deep shadows that the eves created that morning. In a perfect world architecture always has the perfect amount of light thrown on it to create the perfect exposure but, the truth of the matter is with buildings or dwellings they are made to protect from the elements and the Green Brother realized the importance of the large eves to shade of the sunny Southern California sun. Their solution for creating an outdoor living area where the outdoors could be enjoyed anytime of the day without the harshness of the sun being a nuisance was beautifully done, their aesthetic influences of the Orient could easily be deciphered by one simple glimpse at the Gamble house and one could easily see why the question could be made: Is it Japanese?

Bernardo Grijalva

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