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"To keep one's creative capacity at a high pitch and to achieve true integration an architect should condition himself by seriously practicing the related arts and crafts: painting, sculpture, pottery, textile design, furniture, lighting fixture, and of course gardens and the environment. Noemi and I practice all of these."
-Antonin Raymond, Extract of Principles of Antonin Raymond, Architect
Antonin Raymond was an architect, painter, sculptor, and craftsman known, along with his wife and collaborator Noemi, for his design of interior as well as exterior environments. Born and educated in Czechoslovakia, Raymond trained with the Cass Gilbert architectural firm in New York and with architect Frank Lloyd Wright. From 1919 through the 1960s Raymond worked intermittently in Japan, helping to rebuild it first after the Kanto earthquake in 1923 and again after World War II. Even as Raymond introduced modern architectural practices to Japan, he derived inspiration from its native design, the organic structure and clean form which impressed him. Raymond's architectural style was both utilitarian and ornamental, extensively using glass and reinforced concrete. He created not only a building but an environment, taking into consideration external features such as land formations and weather patterns, as well as interior furnishings and decorative objects, many of which his wife Noemi designed. Raymond's creative pursuits extended beyond architecture; he also painted, sculpted, and crafted pottery.
Antonin and Noemi Raymond. Image courtesy of Mr. Stephen Shilowitz, A.I.A., Curator, Antonin Raymond Travel Exhibition.
Education and Training
Polytechnic Institute, Prague, Czechoslovakia, 1906-1910
Draftsman for Yugoslav engineer, Trieste, Austria, 1910
Teachers and Influences
Cass Gilbert, New York architect
Worked with Frank Lloyd Wright at Taliesin, Spring Green, Wisconsin and in Japan, 1916, 1919-1921
Connection to Bucks County
During the mid 1930s, Antonin and Noemi Raymond purchased a farm on Pidcock Creek Road near New Hope. It is known for the large area of windows they added to the old farm house between 1938 and 1976. For 35 years Raymond was an intermittent resident in Bucks County, spending extensive time as well at his New York office and in Japan. During World War II, he designed houses in the Bucks County area, including Hillside House in Lambertville (1941), Carson House in New Hope (1943), and Williams House in Freeport, New Jersey (1941).
Colleagues and Affiliations
Antonin Raymond collaborated with his wife, Noemi Raymond, on many of his architectural projects. While he designed the exterior of a building she crafted its interior. During World War II, Raymond had George Nakashima, a Japanese American, released from an internment camp, hiring him to work on his farm. Later, Nakashima established a furniture business of his own. Other colleagues and friends of the Raymonds included Herman Bowman, William Hunt, and Isamu Noguchi.
Raymond's home, Bucks County. Courtesy Spruance Collection of the Bucks County Historical Society.
"[I]magine my surprise on arriving in Japan to find farms and Shinto shrines... containing all the features which we so ardently desired to create in the new architecture."
Antonin and Noemi Raymond first saw Japan in 1919 when famed architect Frank Lloyd Wright brought them to Tokyo to design the Imperial Hotel. In Japan, the Raymonds discovered a traditional architecture that embodied, for them, the ideals of modernism. To the Raymonds, the unembellished, almost ascetic, simplicity of Japanese buildings suggested a perfect marriage of form and function. Inspired by Japanese design, Antonin incorporated its features into his own architectural plans, while Noemi modeled interior decorations, such as light screens, after Japanese furnishings.
The Raymonds, in turn, contributed to Japanese architecture by introducing modernism, as well as the most current industrial materials. Typically, Raymond adapted state-of-the-art design to traditional Japanese form. Several of his structures, such as the Reader's Digest Building in Tokyo and the Nanzen University campus in Nagoya, won awards and, subsequently, influenced architecture for years to come. Raymond's work aided Japan in times of crisis, helping the nation to rebuild after the Kanto earthquake in 1923 and the bombings of World War II. In this way the Raymonds left their mark on Japan just as its culture shaped their own aesthetics.
The Raymonds Weekend Studio, Hayama, Japan. Image courtesy of Mr. Stephen Shilowitz, A.I.A., Curator, Antonin Raymond Travel Exhibition.
"There is both harmony and dis-harmony in music."
When Antonin and Noemi Raymond married in 1914, they set up adjoining tables, creating the workshop where for several years they would collaborate in designing buildings. In their work, the Raymonds followed the aesthetic principles of orientation and integration. Orientation means the inclusion of environmental features, such as hills or weather patterns, in planning a building. Integration refers to the design of exterior and interior elements together, so that decorative features such as tapestries or lighting fixtures optimally enhance the building's structure. In this way, the Raymonds created a total environment, a structure of organic wholeness and beauty.
The Raymonds designed several buildings together, including the Iranian Embassy in Tokyo and three private homes in the Bucks County area. They substantially redesigned their own eighteenth-century farm house, replacing the southern wall with windows opening out to a meadow, while tearing down interior walls to lengthen the living room. Through these renovations, coupled with sparse and simple decoration, the Raymonds achieved the effect of broad, open space in harmony with the countryside surrounding them.
The Raymonds' Bucks County home. Image courtesy of Mr. Stephen Shilowitz, A.I.A., Curator, Antonin Raymond Travel Exhibition.
Theatre du Vieux Columbien, New York , New York, 1917
Imperial Hotel, Tokyo, Japan, (assisted Frank Lloyd Wright) 1919-1921
US Embassy, Tokyo, Japan, 1928
Soviet Embassy, Tokyo, Japan, 1929
French Embassy, Tokyo, Japan, 1930
Karuizawa Church, Karuizawa, Japan, c. 1935
Stone House, Lambertville, New Jersey, 1940
Camp Kilmerand Camp Shanks for US Government, New Jersey, 1942
Carson House, New Hope, Pennsylvania, 1943
Reader's Digest Building, Tokyo, Japan, 1949-1951
St. Anselm's Church, Tokyo, Japan, 1954
Gunma Music Center, Takasaki, Japan, 1955
Iranian Embassy, Tokyo, Japan, 1960
Nanzan University, Nagoya, Japan, 1962-1964
Nagoya International School, Nagoya, Japan, 1966
Silver Medal, Architectural League, Reader's Digest Office, 1954
Medal of Honor, New York Chapter of the American Institute of Architects, 1956
Recipient, Third Class, Order of the Rising Sun of Japan, 1966
Affiliations and Memberships
Knight, Legion of Honor, France
Officer, White Lion of Czechoslovakia
Knight, Order of Corona d'Italia
Knight, Order of the Dragon of Annam
Teaching and Professional Appointments
Noemi and Antonin Raymond joined Frank Lloyd Wright's staff at Taliesin in Spring Green, Wisconsin in 1915. They went to Japan to work for Frank Lloyd Wright in 1919 to help design the Imperial Hotel in Tokyo.
Antonin Raymond started his own architectural firm with Noemi in Japan in 1921.
Appointed Czechoslovak Consul in Tokyo, Japan, 1924-1937
Fellow, American Institute of Architects, 1952
Honorary Fellow, Japanese Institute of Architects, 1966
Antonin Raymond: An Autobiography,1973
Antonin Raymond: Works 1920-1935, 1935
Antonin Raymond: Architectural Details, 1937