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Harris Floor Covering?

Posted: Sat Feb 09, 2019 12:34 am
by Matt2
Anyone know what sort of carpeting this is? It's a pix from Hamilton Harris house in Fellowship Park. Thing is, a northwest mid-century architect also used this same sort of checkerboard looking floor covering.

http://architectsandartisans.com/blog/w ... -jpg1_.jpg

Posted: Sat Feb 09, 2019 7:01 am
by peterm
That is seagrass carpeting. Harris preferred this. It was readily available from the 30s through the 70s. I remember seeing it as a staple at Cost Plus (now World Market) for dirt cheap. It’s durable to an extent, but the seams holding the squares together would often break. It had s nice, earthy grassy smell.

This is the closest to what I remember. I wish it was still available. Maybe it is, but I haven’t seen it for years:

https://www.ebth.com/items/4369602-natu ... s-area-rug

Posted: Sat Feb 09, 2019 9:28 am
by Matt2
Thanks. So that checkerboard effect comes form laying the tiles in alternating pattern? This wasn't a carpet that was rolled across the floor. The mid-century architect I'm researching used it in several Seattle houses. I wonder if he got the idea from Harris or if this was a popular product with modernists of the time.

Posted: Sat Feb 09, 2019 10:08 am
by SDR
No, it came as carpet, in various sizes. The variety that my parents placed in our living room, for a while, was thick enough that I don't think it would have rolled well, so it may not have been sold as carpeting.

It shows up in vintage photos of mid-century architect-designed houses. The Birtcher house of Harris comes to mind; Craig Ellwood and Gordon Drake houses are shown with the product, in "Modernism Rediscovered" (pp 34, 103, 135, 331).

An early photo of the Pilot House, Model 102, at the Mutual Housing Association, LA, by Smith and Jones, shows the material in the living room.

The version that we had frayed at the edges before too long. I think it would have sold at a lower price than conventional carpet . . .

S

Posted: Sat Feb 09, 2019 10:46 am
by SDR
The color photo linked by Peter shows a variant that is made of squares twice the size of an individual "tile" -- note the seam running down
the middle of every second diagonal square. These seams are seen in the Birtcher living room, but I don't see it in the second photo below.

The Birtcher residence, two photos:

Image

Image

Posted: Sat Feb 09, 2019 7:28 pm
by Paul Ringstrom

Posted: Sat Feb 09, 2019 10:03 pm
by SDR
There's a difference between the vintage product and the contemporary one: in the former the points of all diagonal "tiles" or squares meet; in the modern version there is a central "dead spot" in the pattern.

In the vintage material, as I recall it, the individual "tiles" are lashed or sewn together and there are no seams running across the fleld through the middle of the tiles. Oddly, there appears to be one of each type in the Harris Bircher photos above.

S

Posted: Sat Feb 09, 2019 10:59 pm
by SDR
Here's a source of info on the Fellowship Park house of 1936:

https://socalarchhistory.blogspot.com/2019/


Clips from that page:

Image
Image


Image


Image

Fellowship Park photos © Fred R Dapprich

_________________________________

Posted: Sat Feb 09, 2019 11:38 pm
by SDR
From Lisa Germany's monograph on Harwell Hamilton Harris:


Image

Image


Image
Image
Image

© 1991 by the University of Texas Press

Posted: Sun Feb 10, 2019 12:19 am
by SDR
The sliding glazed sash found at Fellowship Park -- around which that house was designed -- came from Harris's earlier residence for Pauline Lowe and Clive Delbridge (Altadena, 1933-4).

They were subsequently rejected by that client, and so were available to Harris. And a later house, for Mr and Mrs George Bauer (Glendale, 1938) has very similar sash as its window walls.

As a bonus---two more images of grass checkerboard floor covering. Again, apparently, there are two varieties. Germany points to the 12-inch squares as aligned with Harris's 3-foot module.



Image Lowe


Image Bauer

Photographs by Fred R Dapprich

Posted: Sun Feb 10, 2019 11:24 am
by Matt2
Thanks for the great information. Should I assume sea grass has a similar texture as sisal...which I find rather prickly?

Posted: Sun Feb 10, 2019 1:27 pm
by SDR
Yes, I think so. Not as bad as a cocoa doormat, but not soft by any means.

S

Posted: Sun Feb 10, 2019 3:39 pm
by Roderick Grant
Not comfy on bare feet.

Posted: Sun Feb 10, 2019 3:56 pm
by SDR
Another issue---at least with the product as I knew it---is thickness, which can be a problem at the edges when used as an area rug. If the room were prepared for it, used as wall-to-wall, that might not be an issue.

S

Posted: Fri May 17, 2019 6:56 am
by peterm
They are still available. Myth busting, too:

https://retrorenovation.com/2019/05/14/ ... s-made-of/