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.