Mar­tin Eis­ler.


Si­tua­ted on Ar­gen­ti­na’s At­lan­tic coast is a house built by Mar­tin Eis­ler. If to­day his fur­ni­ture, present in lea­ding Eu­ro­pean and Ame­ri­can gal­le­ries, is consi­de­red among­st some of the most em­ble­ma­tic pieces pro­du­ced in South Ame­ri­ca in the 20th cen­tu­ry, Eis­ler on­ly de­si­gned two houses du­ring his ca­reer. His home in Bue­nos Aires and this one built in 1959, a je­wel of a house that has re­mai­ned un­tou­ched and still has all the ori­gi­nal fur­ni­ture and tex­tiles, bea­ring wit­ness to what was a com­ple­te­ly new means of ex­pres­sion at the time.

We don’t know much about Mar­tin Eis­ler’s life and yet he is consi­de­red to be one of the most no­te­wor­thy 20th cen­tu­ry South Ame­ri­can fur­ni­ture de­si­gners. This brilliant de­si­gner’s ca­reer ran from the 1940s to 1970: to­day col­lec­tors can’t get en­ough of his fur­ni­ture. Mar­tin Eis­ler was born in Vien­na in­to an middle-class fa­mi­ly. Af­ter gra­dua­ting from ar­chi­tec­tu­ral school, he see­med ideal­ly pla­ced to take up his pre­des­ti­ned si­tua­tion and en­joy the good life. And that would pro­ba­bly have been the case if he hadn’t been for­ced to leave his country at the start of the Se­cond World War and go in­to exile. He set­tled in Ar­gen­ti­na, an ideal land of re­fuge for ma­ny emi­grants at the time. He was na­tu­ra­li­sed upon ar­ri­val and be­gan wor­king as an ar­chi­tect, a sce­no­gra­pher and a de­si­gner. It wasn’t long be­fore he gai­ned re­cog­ni­tion as a true mas­ter of de­si­gn.

Af­ter mee­ting Car­lo Heu­ner and Er­nes­to Wolf in Bra­zil, he be­gan tra­vel­ling there on a re­gu­lar ba­sis to work with them on dif­ferent de­si­gns. With Wolf (who be­came the com­pa­ny di­rec­tor) he foun­ded For­ma in or­der to sell their own crea­tions and pieces un­der li­cence for Knoll International. This coin­ci­ded with the construc­tion of Bra­si­lia du­ring what was a per­iod of ra­pid de­ve­lop­ment in the country and swift growth for the brand. Eis­ler al­so ope­ned a branch of For­ma in Bue­nos Aires with two part­ners, Ar­nold Ha­kel and Su­si Ac­zel, where it ope­ra­ted as an ar­chi­tec­tu­ral, in­dus­trial and in­ter­ior de­si­gn firm.

Eis­ler’s pieces of fur­ni­ture were land­marks in the quest for mo­bi­li­ty and er­go­no­mics. They ma­na­ged to be per­fect­ly in tune with the times, wi­thout re­pu­dia­ting the de­si­gner’s trai­ning at Bau­haus. He be­gan un­der­ta­king more and more fur­ni­ture and tex­tile pro­jects, but al­so wor­ked on two ar­chi­tec­tu­ral ones, his own home in the Bel­gra­no dis­trict of Bue­nos Aires and this ho­li­day home in Mi­ra­mar on the At­lan­tic coast, which was com­mis­sio­ned in 1959 by a couple of friends ori­gi­nal­ly from Prague. It is a je­wel of a house that has re­mai­ned un­tou­ched, with all the ori­gi­nal fur­ni­ture and tex­tiles bea­ring wit­ness to what was a com­ple­te­ly new means of ex­pres­sion at the time.

Eis­ler brought the same at­ten­tion to func­tio­na­lism and aes­the­ti­cism to ar­chi­tec­ture that he de­mons­tra­ted in his fur­ni­ture de­si­gns. He de­li­be­ra­te­ly contras­ted com­bi­na­tions of ma­te­rials and co­lours in a sur­pri­sing way, with exem­pla­ry, bold and so­me­times im­pro­bable new shapes that conveyed an im­pres­sion of ele­gance and sum­med up his re­so­lu­te­ly modern ap­proach. At first sight, the ar­chi­tec­tu­ral so­lu­tions adop­ted at the Mi­ra­mar house may seem sur­pri­sing. Its long and nar­row fa­çade fo­cuses at­ten­tion on the li­ving room, which fea­tures long, floor-to-cei­ling sli­ding glass doors that create an im­pres­sion of trans­pa­ren­cy. All the other rooms are grou­ped to­ge­ther at the back of the house, with th­ree be­drooms and their sur­pri­sin­gly up-to-date ba­throoms with all the mod cons, in­clu­ding sun­ken ba­th­tubs. The house’s fur­ni­shings echo its ar­chi­tec­tu­ral vo­lumes and a wide va­rie­ty of ma­te­rials are used from wood to steel, as well as cane and fa­bric. What stands out above all and what is sur­ely the most plea­sing to the eye is Eis­ler’s cho­sen pa­lette of bright and hap­py co­lours that contrast bold­ly, whil­st still mar­rying har­mo­nious­ly. They evoke the image of a new, open and fun-lo­ving li­fe­style.

To sum up we could say that Mar­tin Eis­ler’s ele­gant and ac­ces­sible crea­tions epi­to­mise the daw­ning of a new ideal in South Ame­ri­ca. Mar­tin Eis­ler died in Bra­zil in 1977, a country where he fi­nal­ly made his grea­test contri­bu­tion as a de­si­gner.

P. 150

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