In his 1908 paper “Crime and Ornament”, Adolf Loos postulated, “The evolution of culture is synonymous with the removal of ornament from objects of everyday use”. In part because of the stirring title of this text, as well as other racy, erotic and problematic assertions, this text continues to haunt visual artists in our time as we grapple with the contrary formal legacy of modernism and its schizoid sibling post-modernism. In modernism (and its post counterpart) we find a utopian longing for order trailed and at times subsumed by the bodily presence of the folkloric imaginary, an interior world which often finds its exterior expression in ornament and the performance of ritual celebration. To explore the dichotomy of these impulses we metaphorically open the door into the intimate architecture of the Adolf Loos apartment, In our imagined tour of Loos’ apartment we pass thorough the laconic and classical spaces for living, and intuitively linger in the white room he created for his wife Lina (1903). Surrounded by the white walls, white linen draperies and white angora sheepskin floor of this room we pause in an architecture of sensual silence, a brightling space that seems to invite the presence of its voluptuous other.
“The white room that Loos designed for Lina, his blonde, blue-eyed, nineteen-year-old wife, was the most intimate place in the house. The white walls, the white draperies and the white angora sheepskins created a sensual and delicate fluidity; every object in the room was white. Even the closets were concealed behind pale linen drapes. this was an architecture of silence, of a sentimental and erotic approach. Its contrast with the more public living spaces attests to a method of composition that was strictly governed by the psychological status of each room.” – Panayotis Tournikiotis, Adolf Loos, Princeton Architectural Press, 2002, p. 36.