Skip to Main Content
Paul Revere Williams was the first Black architect certified by the AIA. 
Paul Revere Williams in his office with a model of a mid century modern home

The Man Who Built Hollywood

Paul Revere Williams was the first Black architect certified by the AIA.

02 19 20

Kate Connors

Illustration detailing R. Williams career as iconic architect

Beverly Hills Hotel with green grass and palm trees

Paul R. Williams in front of spaceage LA airport building LAX

 

1. Header image: Paul Revere Williams in his Los Angeles office. / 2. An illustrated guide to Williams, created during his time working for the Army Corps of Engineers. Image via the Paul Revere Williams Project. / 3. The iconic Beverly Hills Hotel. / 4. Williams in front of the Theme building at LAX. Image via the Paul Revere Williams Project.

In 1923, Los Angeles architect Paul Revere Williams was certified by the American Institute of Architects. He was the first Black person to be granted the distinction. Williams overcame immense institutional obstacles to become one of Los Angeles’ most prolific architects.

With a wide-ranging style, Williams designed thousands of houses and iconic public spaces. In an industry that was, and to this day remains almost completely dominated by white men, his achievements are particularly impressive.

Early Life

Orphaned at a young age, Williams was the only Black child in his school. He was discouraged from the pursuit of architecture by his high school teachers, but went on to attend design school and eventually the University of Southern California. It’s easy to see how such an experience could have shaped his professional life.

While he was in school, Williams designed several buildings and did a stint at a landscape architecture firm. Even with such prodigious talent, Williams perfected the art of drafting upside down so as to keep the table between himself and his white clients.

After graduating, Williams soon joined the very first Los Angeles County Planning Board, where he cemented connections that allowed him to join the prestigious practice of John C. Austin before building his own practice.

From Moest Traditional Homes to Designing for the Stars

At first, he specialized in building modest homes for the growing residential neighborhoods of Los Angeles. He dabbled in historical styles, referencing colonial, tudor, and neoclassical architecture in plans.

In the postwar years, those homes became grander. Prosperous Angelanos came to Williams for homes that combined style, beauty, and practicality. It wasn’t long before Williams attracted the eyes of the stars.

He famously designed homes for Lucille Ball & Desi Arnaz, Barron Hilton, and Frank Sinatra. Perhaps the glamorous stars loved Williams because his work was as changeable as their film personas — he freely switched modes between projects, building modern houses fit for the space age one moment, traditional stately piles the next. Over the course of his career he would design over two thousand.

Lucille Ball's mid century mod house built by P.R.W.
Revere Williams designed mid century modernSintara House
Famous Paley gilded pool with sun decoration

1. The home Williams built for Lucille Ball. Image via the Paul Revere Williams Project. / 2. The Sinatra house in Los Angeles. Image via the Paul Revere Williams Project. / 3. The gilded pool at the Paley residence, designed by Williams for the entrepreneurial family. Image via the Paul Revere Williams Project.


A Legacy of Iconic Design: LAX and the Beverly Hills Hotel

Williams’ body of work is immense, but his biggest mark on the city of Los Angeles arises from his commercial projects.

At LAX, he worked on the creation of the Theme Building. Like a sci-fi movie poster, the resulting buildings’ flying saucer body hovers over the ground on elegantly curved legs. For Los Angeles, the building is a perfect representation of the fresh, forward-looking mood of the 1960s. It's an iconic piece of airport history. But, one more project cements Williams’ status as the builder of Hollywood dreams.

He was tapped for the renovation of the Beverly Hills Hotel, even designing the famous script logo. The hotel was (and is) the embodiment of Hollywood glamour — frequented by the rich and famous to this day.

Stroll around Los Angeles today and you’ll encounter the work of Paul Revere Williams at every turn. It’s an impressive accomplishment for anyone, but particularly for a black man who faced institutionalized barriers at every turn. Thankfully, Williams was an architect. He knew how to deal with walls.

Learn more about Paul Revere Williams.

The artist is at the forefront of the new Detroit sound. 
Jay Daniel musician in his studio in Detroit with a Floyd shelf.

In the Studio with Jay Daniel

The artist is at the forefront of the new Detroit sound.

01 31 20

Kate Connors

Tall Floyd wall shelf displays family portrait, records, and books

Daniel's analog production equipment in his music studio

 

1. Header image: Jay Daniel works from his studio in Highland Park. / 2. A portrait of Matthew Henson, an arctic explorer and Jay's great great grand uncle. / 3. Analog production equipment.

 

Jay Daniel is one of the most shapeshifting electronic musicians working today. From his minimal studio in Highland Park spring lush, atmospheric sounds with a driving percussive heart. Notes and beats drawn from a wide array of influences interweave in Daniel’s music, referencing his own musical forebears and the history of the city he calls home.

In a string of singles on major dance labels and in his three LPs, Jay Daniel is making a new Detroit sound. For our collaboration with Ghostly, we stopped by Jay’s studio to get a glimpse of his process.

You’ve been described as part of the “next gen of detroit hi-tech soul”, but clearly your work draws on a huge breadth of influences. How do you describe the music that you make?

I’d say that the music I make is pretty intersectional. I draw influences from different genres, I feel like that reflects how I was raised. I’d call my music lifestyle music

Listen to TALA, Daniel's latest LP.

You’ve been in Detroit for a while, but you spent parts of your childhood in other places. Does that play into your music?

Yeah definitely. I’ve lived in Detroit most of my life, but I was born in Maryland & spent some of my formative years there. I listened to gogo a lot as a kid & in high school. I think the percussive element that’s so prevalent in gogo definitely carried over into my own music. Growing up between Detroit & Maryland I got the best of both worlds musically.

You use a ton of analog equipment to create your immersive, percussive sound. What drew you to that process? How has your process changed?

My process really just came from me wanting to find the most efficient way to make music. I don’t use daws or anything because I like to be hands on. That comes from me being a drummer. My process has changed, but most recently I’ve gotten back onto the idea of taking my time when producing.

Does the environment you’ve created in your studio affect your work? How have you shaped the space toward your own creativity?

For one thing I get a lot of sunlight in my apartment, that definitely helps. I don’t really let anybody in my home, & I think that same mentality can be attributed to my studio & my music. It’s my safe space.

Tell us about that portrait of Matthew Henson on your shelf.

Matthew Henson is my great great grand uncle. He was the first person to reach the North Pole. I keep his picture & a few of my ancestors’ pictures up just out of reverence.

You released your latest album, TALA, in 2018. What’s next for you?

I will be dropping an ep very soon. It’s called “SSD.” I made a lot of music the last quarter of 2019 & these tracks were some that I felt were the most cohesive.

At Floyd, we make lasting products for how people live today.
Small circular bed or couch side tables with wood top and steel legs

A Note on the Floyd Design Ethos

At Floyd, we make lasting products for how people live today. That means we take great care to design thoughtfully, so that each of our pieces is functional and beautiful where you live now and where you’ll live next.

1 21 20

We believe in friendly & approachable designs made of materials that last. Because furniture belongs in your home, not the landfill. We call it furniture for keeping.

We created a short film about the Floyd Design Ethos. It’s easier, after all, to show rather than tell. Come take a look inside the way we design, prototype, and build the pieces that are made to fit where and how you live.

Shop Floyd.

This widget makes post narrow
This will be hidden in site
Celebrating 100 years of the Bauhaus.
Group of design students sitting on Bauhaus School balcony

Back to the Future

Celebrating 100 years of Bauhaus

1 16 20

Kate Connors

Exterior of the famous Bauhaus Building

Circular outline of Bauhaus design teachings

Bauhaus founder Walter Gropius, black and white headshot

 

1. Header image: Bauhaus students on the school's balcony. Image via the Bauhaus Dessau Foundation. / 2. The Bauhaus building in Dessau was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Image via the Bauhaus Dessau Foundation. / 3. The Bauhaus curriculum funneled students from a single preliminary course into specialized workshops. Only after mastering their discipline could students progress to the school's architecture studio. Image via Wikimedia. / 4. Walter Gropius founded the Bauhaus. Image via the Harvard Museum of Art Bauhaus Archive.

Celebrating 100 years of Bauhaus

Bauhaus is everywhere. Its trademark sleek lines are ubiquitous in our everyday lives, from boardrooms to airports, apartment buildings to art museums. What began as an avant garde movement of artists and designers developed a design language that is synonymous with modernity. But that minimalist look is older than you might think: this past year, the Bauhaus school turned 100. Minimalism doesn’t seem unusual these days. But in 1919, the prevailing style was ornate, full of references to an idealized past. After WW1, a group of artists and designers in the Weimar Republic created the Bauhaus school as a means of realizing a new way of living, informed by functionalism rather than ornamentalism.

For the founding members (including Walter Gropius, Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, Paul Klee, and Josef Albers) of the Bauhaus, who were part of the political and artistic revolutionaries of the time, functional aesthetics were beautiful, and every element of everyday life was worthy of attentive design.

In practice, that meant the school—which operated from 1919 until it was forced by the Nazi government to close in 1933—overturned many of the traditions of design education. Students worked as apprentices to masters of their crafts, beginning in a universal introductory course before progressing slowly into the specialized discipline of their choosing.

For founder Walter Gropius, this methodology reunited craftsmanship with art, allowing for the perfection of skill through experience. Gropius wrote in his manifesto, “Architects, sculptors, painters—we all must return to craftsmanship!”


Mid century modern Marcel Brauer Chair
Multicolored design for a rug by Anni Albers with different patterns of stripes
Bauhaus costume design for Triadic Ballet
Mid century mod minimalist desk lamp from Bauhaus
Mies van der Rohe designed College of Architecture at IITT

Gesamktkunstwerk

The Bauhaus School developed a signature style based on their functional philosophy. Architects like Gropius and Marcel Brauer pioneered sleek, glass facades and rectilinear shapes. Smooth curves took the place of neoclassical pediments. Industrial materials like steel were favored, and simplicity was valued for its functional beauty.

The look formed the basis of the ‘international style, which became the standard for large modern buildings. The Bauhaus, however, was not only concerned with architecture. The group worked toward Gesamktkunstwerk, or a ‘total work of art’, an idealized life in which all built elements, including everyday objects, adhered to the functionalist paradigm.

This philosophy also meant that no form of art was valued more than another— a practice that elevated disciplines traditionally relegated to ‘handicrafts’ into the realm of fine art. The result was an incredible output. Ceramics, furniture, textiles, metalwork, clothing, and printmaking all received the Bauhaus treatment.

Bauhaus Modernity Lives On

Though it only existed as a unified school for 13 years, Bauhaus style has permeated modern life. When the school was forced to close by political pressure, architects, artists, and designers established new practices around the world.

In places like Chicago, Detroit, Los Angeles, London, and Tel Aviv the members of the school continued to build and create their modern work. Hired during the post-war building boom to design boardrooms, airports, and public spaces, the Bauhaus designers popularized a forward-looking aesthetic that stepped away from the romantic notions of past movements. 100 years later, that signature sleek, functional Bauhaus style is still the pinnacle of modernity.

To learn more about the Bauhaus, explore the archives at the Harvard Art Museums and Bauhaus 100.

It's easier than you think to let your partner down easy.

How to Tell Your SO You Hate Their Style

It's easier than you think.

1 16 20

Kate Connors

When asked to recount a scene from When Harry Met Sally, most people will jump immediately to the diner conversation. You know which one. But we keep coming back to the argument over a particularly kitschy wagon wheel coffee table. There’s something universal about it. Who hasn’t had to delicately tiptoe around the fact that you really don’t like something your significant other owns? Taste is subjective, but this experience is universal.

We got to thinking about how bad this type of interaction can be. Simmering furniture resentments quickly become festering animosity, after all! So, we’ve compiled a few strategies to promote stylistic and relational harmony.

Catch & Release

Proceed with caution, this technique can be risky! But, if executed carefully, you may be able to painlessly extricate yourself from a particularly heinous piece. Begin by choosing a replacement — and bringing it home. Suggest to your loved one that they may like to try something new. Whisk the offending object to another area or room. Remark how beautiful and wonderful and functional the new piece is. Repeat, and repeat often. Wait a few days.

Once you feel the replacement has become part of your routine, the time has come for the release phase. If your partner has become accustomed to the new piece, gently suggest the offending version be (for lack of a better word) “re-homed”. You can donate it to a worthwhile cause, or use apps like Craigslist or Letgo. That way, your piece’s new owner can also take care of the transportation. A win-win!

Mood Board to Victory

Use this opportunity to explore something new. This is the technique of compromise! A good place to start are sites like Pinterest or Instagram, where the mysterious and all-powerful algorithm can help you narrow in on a look you both love.

Begin curating photos that draw you in! You might be surprised by what pleases your eye, and your special someone may find that they don’t dislike “eclectic” decor as much as they think they do.

Use your new collection of design inspiration inform your decorative decisions. This is a particularly effective technique if both you and your partner find that your taste is different than you expected. Take your new mutually-agreed-upon style and revamp your whole look. Problem solved! Say goodbye to the 90s coffee table from that’s been following you around since college.

The Four Walls Technique

Then there’s the scientific approach. The peer-reviewed, research-tested approach. It’s a persuasive tool called The Four Walls Technique. Basically, you put your partner into a yes mindset. It works by conditioning the brain towards a positive response.

This Jedi mind trick works by leading up to your real question with several additional questions. These questions should be guaranteed ‘yes-es’. For example: “do you love me?” (yes). “Do you think our home should be beautiful and welcoming?” (yes). “Don’t you love the color blue?” (yes).

These yes responses lead into the real question: “Should we get this beautiful blue sofa, which is nicer than the hand-me-down couch from your grandma we are currently sitting on?” Boom. You’ve pre-conditioned your partner toward a yes to that one too. Excellent work.

Truth Hurts

It can be awkward, but as the saying goes, the truth will set you free. Just rip the bandaid off and avoid conflict down the line.

Face your design dilemma head-on and tell your loved one you don’t dig what they’re bringing to the design table. Be kind, of course. You’ll have to judge your delivery based on the magnitude of the disagreement and the level of style polarization. You may find that the disagreement wasn’t as bad as you thought!

As you confront your own (literal and metaphorical) wagon-wheel coffee tables, remember that life isn’t always like the movies. Harmonious homes are possible! Just avoid calling anything the “stupid, wagon wheel, Roy Rogers garage sale coffee table.” It never ends well.

 

Image: Picasso and his wife Jacqueline sharing lunch at home in 1957 with Lump the dachshund. David Douglas Duncan/Courtesy of Harry Ransom Center

This widget makes post narrow
This will be hidden in site

Frequently Asked
Questions

Have a Question?

Check the list below to see if we have your answer.

More information about the dimensions, colors, materials and shipping information can be found on individual product pages.

{[ section.title ]}

{[ topic.title ]}

Don't see what you're looking for? Reach out on the contact page.