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03-01-2005
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flaunt the imperfection
 
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Raymond Meier Builds a House
Raymond Meier
HOUSE DIVIDED Two buildings linked pay tribute to traditional Swiss homesteads.

By FEDERICO CHIARA

Published: January 2, 2005

When the Zurich-born (but New York-based) fashion photographer Raymond Meier set out to build a vacation home in Soglio -- a tiny Swiss village of only 150 inhabitants, 45 minutes south of St. Moritz -- he had everything clear in his mind. He wanted a house in harmony with the landscape of simple, ancient structures and at the same time he needed a wide, contemporary loftlike space to work and live in with Christina Sun and their two children, Max, 3, and Eva, 5. The site he settled upon is surrounded by breathtaking mountains where Meier can practice winter sports and ride his KTM 640 motorbike. It is also convenient to the Milan airport (just two hours away) and the Italian city Chiavenna, where he goes to buy a local confection, biscotin de prost.

After a lucky encounter with the Soglio-based architect Armando Ruinelli, Meier's dream became a solid (but extremely airy) 7,300-square-foot reality. ''Even though Armando and I were thousands of miles away from each other, we worked very closely,'' Meier explains. Ruinelli faxed plans from Switzerland almost every day for two years, and Meier put in his own ideas over the phone. ''He taught me so much about architecture that it became my hobby,'' Meier says.

This newfound interest is reflected in Meier's first book of photography (published by Edition Dino Simonett), focusing on the Dhaka buildings of the architect Louis Kahn. ''A genius who stimulated my creativity,'' he says, noting how much architecture and photography have in common, since both disciplines are based on an instinct for design. Playing off the traditions of Swiss architecture, the house is divided into two archetypal units: one covered with oak and the other with lime plaster. They are connected by a common basement -- devoted to Meier's huge studio -- which he uses both for photo shoots and as an indoor cycling arena for the children. Outside, a much-loved veranda completes the kitchen-dining room.

Meier's exacting eye is apparent throughout the house: clean proportions, extreme functionality, simple materials used with a contemporary twist. Cement, steel, local gray granite and glass predominate, but the house doesn't look -- or feel -- cold. What's the trick? ''In the lighting, first of all,'' Meier explains, ever the photographer. ''And the angles aren't razor-sharp, the walls aren't exactly white. I think the key is imperfection. Breaking the surface of perfection stimulates curiosity.''

The unpolished, handmade furniture and structural components were made to measure by local craftsmen. Concrete is a unifying element, used for the fireplace, some tables and even the beds. The pots Christina uses to cook her famous stew -- gifts from Ruinelli -- are also carved from stone. ''If I ever get bored, I would have to jackhammer them!'' Meier laughs. ''But isn't decor meant to last, like the mountains that surround it?''

Attached Images
File Type: jpg 02design.span.jpg (32.0 KB, 25 views)

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Last edited by softgrey; 03-01-2005 at 06:33 AM.
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03-01-2005
  2
flaunt the imperfection
 
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all photos by raymond meier for the ny times...
i love love love his photography...
Attached Images
File Type: jpg 02design.1.jpg (25.0 KB, 14 views)
File Type: jpg 02design.2.jpg (38.4 KB, 17 views)
File Type: jpg 02design.3.jpg (33.3 KB, 13 views)
File Type: jpg 02design.4.jpg (41.6 KB, 18 views)
File Type: jpg 02design.5.jpg (53.7 KB, 17 views)

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03-01-2005
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nice house!....you wouldn't expect it in switzerland....

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03-01-2005
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Beautiful! I love how simple it is!

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03-01-2005
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Lovely...the views are stunning. Thanks for the pics softgrey.

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04-04-2007
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Very IKEA-ish

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04-04-2007
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Beautiful...thank you so much for posting

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04-04-2007
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rêverie
 
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looks very clean ... and organic. beautiful setting. thanks softgrey

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06-04-2007
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Beautiful location! I think any house would look great there as long as it had a lot of windows...

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