Connect with us


The apartment of the visionary who designed your kitchen | Culture




It’s just before 2pm in Vienna, Austria. For the past month, a small group of people have been waiting every Friday in front of the building at 16, Franzensgasse. Most of them are women. At last, the clock strikes 2pm, the time when visitors are allowed to see the former apartment of architect Margarete Schütte-Lihotzky, which has recently been turned into a museum.

In post-World War I Germany, the vast majority of single-family households were made up of single or widowed women, and finding a suitable type of housing for them had become a challenge for Frankfurt’s urban planning team, which included Margarete Schütte-Lihotzky. She had the idea of converting the attics of modern buildings into small apartments. This way, the women could live in the same buildings as workers in Frankfurt, instead of in separate residences for single people (such as student residences) that were typical of Germany back then.

A lamp designed by Adolf Loss.
A lamp designed by Adolf Loss.Bettina Frenzel
The rebuilt sofa bed, tapestry and shelf.
The rebuilt sofa bed, tapestry and shelf.Bettina Frenzel

Many years later, when she retired in 1969, she herself was on the lookout for an apartment in Vienna. The home she found measured 55 square meters, and was made up of a kitchen, a bathroom and a living room with a sleeping area – the same layout she had designed for independent women in post-World War I Germany. Schütte-Lihotzky would go on to live in that apartment for 30 years. It is in many ways her last project as an architect. Although, as with all historical sites, a bit of imagination is needed to see it as it originally was.

After the architect’s death in 2000, the apartment was home to art historian Ulrike Jenni, who made significant changes to the furnishings. So when the Margaret Schütte-Lihotzky Zentrum association decided to turn the apartment into a museum, it first had to be restored. Work began in 2021, after the association managed to have the house officially protected as a monument. With the help of the University of Applied Arts and other institutions, the furniture that was still in the house was restored and the pieces that were severely damaged or lost were reconstructed. The sofa-bed, for example, had to be rebuilt based on Schütte-Lihotzky’s design, while the String shelf in her office just had to be bought again, as the Swiss brand continues making it.

The apartment's balcony.
The apartment’s balcony.Bettina Frenzel
The apartment of Margarete Schütte-Lihotzky.
The apartment of Margarete Schütte-Lihotzky.Bettina Frenzel

But the project is not yet complete; the $5 entrance fee for the museum goes towards the second phase of the restoration. This includes rebuilding the fireplace in the living room and restoring the famous Frankfurt Kitchen, designed by Schütte-Lihotzky. She came up with the design while working in post-war Frankfurt, and it continues to be the model kitchen today. The design streamlined and simplified the kitchen, and became so famous that Schütte-Lihotzky became fed up with the number of requests she had for the model. While she may have jokingly wished she never designed the Frankfurt Kitchen, it marked the starting point for her interest in the relationship between architecture and female emancipation.

A lifetime of design

Margarete Schütte-Lihottzky was born in Vienna in 1897, and grew up at a time when one could travel to Dubrovnik, in modern-day Croatia, without leaving the Austrian Empire. She lived to the age of 103, seeing in the turn of the millennium. The restored furniture in the apartment-museum is a kind of tribute to the design of the past century. The dining room features a lamp by Adolf Loos, one of the most influential architects in history. Schütte-Lihotzky worked with him after graduating from the University of Applied Arts in Vienna, where she was the first female student. At the university, formerly known as the Kunstgewerbeschule, she learned alongside Loos the strategies for optimizing domestic space that she would later use in the Frankfurt Kitchen and her designs for women’s apartments.

The bathroom remains exactly the same, only the shower curtain is missing.
The bathroom remains exactly the same, only the shower curtain is missing.Bettina Frenzel
The sleeping and living area of Margarete Schütte-Lihotzky's apartment.
The sleeping and living area of Margarete Schütte-Lihotzky’s apartment.Bettina Frenzel

In 1930, after her work in Frankfurt came to a halt due to the Great Depression and the rise of nationalism, Schütte-Lihotzky left Germany for the Soviet Union. In 1933, while working in Magnitogorsk, one of the Soviet cities where she designed kindergartens and children’s furniture, the architect acquired a Kyrgyz tapestry that can be seen above the sofa bed in the museum.

The apartment also features two Kanadier armchairs, which were designed by her husband, fellow architect Wilhem Schüffe. The couple moved to Istanbul in 1937. At that point the architect had begun to collaborate with the Austrian Communist Party (KPÖ), and when Schütte-Lihotzky returned to Vienna in 1940 to secretly contact the Austrian communist resistance movement, she was arrested by the Gestapo and taken to a prison in the German city of Aichach.

The Frankfut Kitchen, designed by Margarete Schütte-Lihotzky in 1926.
The Frankfut Kitchen, designed by Margarete Schütte-Lihotzky in 1926.B. Straubach

Schütte-Lihotzky was released after the fall of the Third Reich in 1945, although for political reasons (she was still a communist) she received few commissions. In the last years of her career, the architect divided her time between designing kindergartens for East Germany (GDR), taking part in important conferences such as the International Congresses of Modern Architecture (CIAM) and fighting for feminist causes such as the recognition of housework as a profession.

Today, attitudes towards Schütte-Lihotzky have changed a lot. In Vienna, people line up to see her small apartment, and just a half an hour after opening, the museum is already full.

Sign up for our weekly newsletter to get more English-language news coverage from EL PAÍS USA Edition.

Source link


Jennifer Lopez thought she was ‘going to die’ after her breakup with Ben Affleck | Culture




The story of Jennifer Lopez, 53, and Ben Affleck, 50, is still providing new twists and turns after more than 20 years. When it seemed that one of the most famous couples in Hollywood had made as many headlines as possible with their reconciliation and subsequent marriage, the singer has made the news again by sharing more details about how they got together in 2002 and why they broke up two years later.

Reflecting on their relationship, Lopez said that it wasn’t a case of love at first sight. “I think what happened is, as we worked together, we became such good friends,” she said in an interview with Apple Music. The two met while filming the movie Gigli (2002), but at the time, Lopez was married to choreographer Chris Judd. The chemistry between the two, however, was undeniable. “We realized that we were crazy about each other […] It’s like you just knew it. It’s just like, ‘This is the person I want to be with.’ And that happened over a period of months.”

And then, from one day to the next, it was over. “It was so painful after we broke up. Once we called off that wedding 20 years ago, it was the biggest heartbreak of my life. I honestly felt like I was going to die,” she said. In the interview, Lopez said she even stopped performing songs inspired by their relationship because it was too painful. “It was a part of me then that I had to put away to move on and survive. It was a survival tactic, for sure.”

“It sent me on a spiral for the next 18 years where I just couldn’t get it right,” she continued. “But now, 20 years later, it does have a happy ending.”

During their separation, Lopez starred in dozens of movies, performed at hundreds of concerts (including the Super Bowl halftime show) and found love with singer Marc Anthony (with whom she has two children) and former baseball player Alex Rodriguez, with whom she was briefly engaged.

In April 2021, Lopez and Affleck confirmed they were back together after the singer broke up with Alex Rodríguez, and Affleck ended his relationship with actress Ana de Armas. A year later, the two were engaged and just a month later they were married in Las Vegas. Another month after that, they held a three-day wedding with friends and family.

Jennifer Lopez and Ben Affleck on their wedding day, in September 2022.
Jennifer Lopez and Ben Affleck on their wedding day, in September 2022.OnTheJLo

Last Friday, Lopez announced she will be releasing a new album, This is Me… Now, on the 20th anniversary of her 2002 record This is Me… Then. The focus of the new album is love, she said. “We captured me at this moment in time when I was reunited with the love of my life and we decided we were going to be together forever. The whole message of the album then is this love exists. This is a real love,” she said. “If you have, like me at times, lost hope, almost given up, don’t. Because true love does exist and some things do last forever and that’s real.”

“I want to put that message out into the world and that does take a lot of vulnerability,” she continued. “But I couldn’t stop myself and some parts of it scare me. And I think parts of it scare Ben too. He’s like, ‘Oh, do you really want to say all this stuff?’ And I’m like, ‘I don’t know how else to do it, baby.’”

Source link

Continue Reading


Unko Museum: Tokyo opens first poop museum to explore a taboo topic among Japanese youth | Culture




Among the many synonyms for excrement that exist in the Japanese language, the founders of the Tokyo Unko Museum chose the most candid one, unko, to name an irreverent space designed for female Instagram users. “My goal was for poop to stop being a taboo subject for young girls,” explains its creator, Masaru Kobayashi.

With Japanese influencers in mind, Kobayashi filled the museum’s rooms with toilets and poop-shaped pieces in shades of turquoise, fuchsia and lemon yellow. The colors follow the palette of the Japanese kawaii aesthetic, which combines the cutesy and the grotesque. Kobayashi explains that, far from being a cultural fad, kawaii is a natural extension of traditional Japanese culture. “At the pinnacle of world-famous kawaii culture is poop, a fragile material that disappears down the drain shortly after being brought into this world,” reads a sign at the museum entrance.

To revive the scatological enthusiasm of childhood, visitors are welcomed into a room equipped with nine colorful toilets, whose arrangement evokes the communal toilets of ancient Rome. A museum guide invites them to sit down, clench their fists and, after counting one-two-three, imagine that they are releasing a symbolic dump. When they get up, they find in their respective receptacles pieces of plastic poop, which resemble the poop emoji in striking pastel colors.

There are neon signs with the word poop written in 16 languages. A tearoom serves huge cakes topped with golden feces. Another room features colorful droppings that move when stroked like furry animals. Video games include flying poops. On small toilet-shaped blackboards hung on the wall, visitors are invited to make their own poop drawings.

Although there is a Japanese term for museum, Kobayashi chose the English “museum” to describe a thematic venue whose sole function is to create entertaining environments. Instagram is full of photographs of absurd and witty scenes from the exhibits: couples play-acting, sitting on separate toilets, young parents with blue poop on their heads, or the typical tourist photo featuring a huge illuminated poop. Kobayashi confesses that at first he feared that the unusual concept would be rejected. He felt better when older people started to visit, many of whom saw a generational change in the fact that young girls were openly talking about poop.

In the past three years, Kobayashi has created six such museums across Japan. He has received invitations to open another in Singapore and is in talks with several Asian countries where the subject of human poop lacks the taboo it has historically had in the West.

Classics authors in Japanese literature, such as Natsume Soseki, coined memorable phrases about poop’s “physiological pleasures,” and Junichiro Tanizaki devoted a long passage from his well-known essay Praise of the Shadow to the traditional toilet set in the middle of a garden, which is where “poets of all times have found abundant material for their haikus.”

Many Japanese children learn to write the complicated characters of their language with a series of popular books called Poop Exercises, which contain more than 3,000 humorous phrases related to the subject. For 17 years, Toto, which manufactures high-tech toilets, has held a poetry contest inspired by the subject in the senryu style, which consiss of a short humorous poem and is a relative of the haiku.

For Kobayashi, the evolution of the museum’s audience is apparent in their gradual migration from Instagram to TikTok. His intention, he says, is to continue creating playful spaces that provide moments of relaxation to contrast with typically Japanese solemnity. His next project is a railway museum where, unlike the rigorous Japanese rail schedules, no trains arrive on time.

Source link

Continue Reading


The medieval monks who forged a nobleman’s will to appropriate a valuable church | Culture




The monks of the San Pedro de Cardeña monastery, in Spain’s Burgos province, had long had their eye on the Santa María de Cuevas de Provanco church in Segovia. But the substantial inheritance that the Count of Castile, Asur Fernández, and his wife Guntroda, bequeathed them made no mention of this Romanesque church surrounded by beautiful vineyards.

Such was the ambition of the monastery to own the church that two hundred years after the death of the Count, they forged the parchment on which his will was written. Their only mistake was an omission to remove all the copies of the authentic will. Now, the Spanish National Research Council (CSIC) and the University of Burgos have been able to demonstrate that the fraudulent document, considered until now to be the oldest of those kept in the Historical Nobility Archive in Toledo, is in fact a forgery from the 12th century, and not from the year 943, as it claims.

The document faked by the monks – officially known as OSUNA, CP.37, D.9 – is a parchment on which round Visigothic script records a donation from the Count of Castile to the monastery of San Pedro de Cardeña. Until now, the document was thought to be somewhat unique as hardly any original documents from the 10th century survive in Castilian Spanish. However, research has shown that it was actually drawn up two centuries later.

The research, to be made public shortly in the Medieval Studies Annual Report, has revealed which procedures were employed to doctor the will, as well as the motives that led the monks to do so. The forgers based their work on an authentic document stipulating a donation from the Count, inserting elements that were not in the original, in order to use it as evidence in potential lawsuits, two of which were subsequently filed and won by the monks.

Drawing by Zix of the looting of El Cid’s tomb in San Pedro de Cardeña.
Drawing by Zix of the looting of El Cid’s tomb in San Pedro de Cardeña.

The analysis of the document, carried out by Sonia Serna from the University of Burgos, has exposed anomalies both in its preparation and its writing. Serna explains that the scribe was accustomed to working with the 12th century Carolinian script, and made an effort to imitate the round Visigothic script typical of 10th century Castile. But anachronistic features crept into his work, such as the use of the Carolinian system of abbreviations and the adoption of anomalous solutions to abbreviate some words, elements that would not have existed in the 10th century. All the same, the forgery proved effective enough to win two court cases.

The forged document included a clause that ceded the church to the Burgos monastery

The original document used by the monk as a model for his forgery was lost. However, a copy survived in the collection of charters, known as Becerro Gótico de Cardeña and kept in the Zabálburu Library in Madrid. By comparing both texts, Julio Escalona from the CSIC History Institute verified that the monk copied the wording and appearance of the authentic will, but inserted a clause assigning the church of Santa María de Cuevas de Provanco to the monastery of San Pedro.

In 1175, the church of Santa María de las Cuevas was the subject of litigation between the monastery of San Pedro and the councils of Peñafiel and Castrillo de Duero. The Burgos monastery finally won by presenting the false parchment document and getting two monks to testify its authenticity. According to the experts, that document was the will filed in the Toledo archive, whose anomalous paleographic features are consistent with an elaboration in the second half of the 12th century, taking the original as a model.

“Its value does not lie in the anecdotal fact of its being or not being the oldest document in the archive [as was believed until now], but in showing how technical skills and moral and religious authority combined in this case to build a credible truth, capable of triumphing in a judicial scenario,” states the CSIC and University of Burgos study. “Ultimately, it reminds us that to fully understand any historical period, it is essential to understand how each period rewrites and manipulates its past.”

The monastery of San Pedro de Cardeña, where the forgery was made, was completely plundered by the Napoleonic troops during the invasion of the Iberian Peninsula in 1808. The monks fled in terror and had to abandon all the treasures they had been guarding for centuries. One of the desecrated tombs was that of El Cid – or Rodrigo Díaz de Vivar, with Napoleon’s soldiers selling off his weapons and remains throughout Europe. They even made engravings reflecting the plundering of the tomb of the legendary warrior. Today, a plaque states that although the remains of the Castilian hero are no longer here, his horse is buried in the monastery’s garden, though this may be no more than a myth.

Source link

Continue Reading


Subscribe To Our Newsletter

Join our mailing list to receive the latest news and updates 
directly on your inbox.

You have Successfully Subscribed!