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Laskey Completed under the auspices of the Oral History Program University of California Los Angeles Copyright ® 1986 The Regents of the University of California Arcnitecture & I'rhan Planning Library A//C This manuscript is hereby made available for research purposes only. All literary rights in the manuscript, including the right to publication, are reserved to the University Library of the University of California, Los Angeles. No part of the manuscript may be quoted for publication without the written permission of the University Librarian of the University of California, Los Angeles. CONTENTS Biographical Summary viii interview History xiii TAPE NUMBER: I, Side One (November 7, 1984) 1 Early education and exposure to art — Schooling in Vienna — Enlists in the army — Conditions in Hungary after World War I — Enters the Staatliche Akademie der Bilden den Kiinste in Stuttgart — Quits school and begins working for the architect Fritz August Breuhaus in Cologne — Working for Leo Nachtlicht in Berlin- Wilmersdorf . TAPE NUMBER: I, Side Two (November 7, 1984) 18 LSszl6's preference for small architectural firms — Begins working as a free-lance furniture designer in Vienna — Moves his office to Stuttgart — Contributes to the VJeissenhof exhibit — LSszl6 designs an apartment for an exhibit in Dusseldorf--Wins a competition held by Meissen Royal China Manufactory in Dresden — Other projects in Vienna and Hungary — Designs a home for Max Bleyle in Stuttgart — V7orks as both a designer and an architect. TAPE NUMBER: II, Side One (November 21, 1984) 36 The "Secessionists" and the Bauhaus — LSszl6's feeling that he was influenced more by the city of Vienna itself than by any particular move- ment — The Max Bleyle House — How L5szl6 got into interior design — More on the Bleyle House — Cultural life — The Robert Weir apartment. TAPE NUMBER: II, Side Two (November 21, 1984) 54 More on the Robert Weir apartment — LSszlC designs gloves for the Jeittele glove company — Designs a home for the Jeitteles — The Marx House — The Walter Kahn House — The Fleischer House — Designing paper products for the Fleischer firm — Skiing with his son, Peter Paul L5szl6--Peter Paul's achievements in golf-- remodeling of the Brentwood Country IV COPYRIGHT LAW The copyright law of the United States (Title 17, United States Code) governs the making of photocopies or other reproductions of copyrighted material. Under certain conditions specified in the law, libraries and archives are authorized to furnish a photocopy or other reproduction. One of these specified conditions is that the photocopy or reproduction is not to be used for any purpose other than private study, scholarship, or research. if a user makes a request for, or later uses, a photocopy or reproduction for purposes in excess of "fair use," that user may be liable for copyright infringement. This institution reserves the right to refuse to accept a copying order if, in its judgement, fulfillment of the order would involve violation of copyright law. RESTRICTIONS ON THIS INTERVIEW None. LITERARY RIGHTS AND QUOTATION This manuscript is hereby made available for research purposes only. All literary rights in the manuscript, including the right to publication, are reserved to the University Library of the University of California, Los Angeles. No part of the manuscript may be quoted for publication without the written permission of the University Librarian of the University of California, Los Angeles. CONTENTS Introduction vii Interview History xii TAPE NUMBER: I, Side One (April 14, 1982) 1 Genealogy of May's maternal ancestors, the Estudillo family — The Estudillo house and the functional quality of early California adobe ranch architecture — Memories of his aunt Jane Magee and Las Flores Ranch--The process of proving land ownership after California's annexation — May's extended family in California — Las Flores Ranch — Functional quality of ranch and barn architecture — Ramona ' s marriage place. TAPE NUMBER: I, Side Two (May 12, 1982) 36 May's paternal grandfather, Charles E. May — May's father, John Clifford May — May's boyhood neighborhood in San Diego--Irving Gill houses in San Diego — Basement and layout of May's childhood home — Never being able to please his father — His brother, Henry C. May, wants to make money--Prominent citizens of San Diego — May's musical interests as a youth. TAPE NUMBER: II, Side One (May 12, 1982) 73 Learns to play the piano — Enters college — The stock market crash of 1929 — Begins designing and building furniture — Designs and builds his first house. [Second Part] (June 9, 1982) 86 The modern California ranch house — Importance of a designer to an architect — Few regulations and low costs when May first started building — Building styles which May considers poor architecture--His low opinion of Le Corbusier and the International style — May's first use of the pullman lavatory — His use of cement floors. IV TAPE NUMBER: II, Side Two (June 9, 1982) 115 Importance of rock cushion in cement floors — The problem of working with clients who do not want to take the designer's advice — Builds a house for John A. Smith and Smith offers to put up money for May to build houses in Los Angeles — May builds a house for his own family — Various houses May built in San Diego — His association with John A. Smith — Difficulties with the Board of Architectural Examiners — Feuds between architects and builders — Riviera Ranch development — Decision to build good houses rather than cheap houses. TAPE NUMBER: III, Side One (June 9, 1982) 154 Becomes acquainted with Paul Frankl's f urniture--Building houses for Frederic M. Blow — Building for John Galvin. [Second Part] (July 21, 1982) 163 Early California ranch architecture — The Monterey box-style house — Maximizing space on building lots by building up to the property line--Dif f erent ways of disposing of garbage — Need to adapt each house to the client — Need for architect to examine the site before building — The designing of Balboa Park by the Olmstead brothers and Bertram Goodhue — Other builders of ranch houses. TAPE NUMBER: IV, Side One (September 15, 1982) .... 190 The spreading of the ranch house idea — Innovations in May's houses--Costs of ranch house construction — Puts out the book Western Ranch Houses with Sunset magazine--May ' s "Pacesetter House" featured in House Beautiful- Other architects begin copying May's houses — The need for larger living rooms--Mandalay (CM No. 5) originally seemed too big, now does not seem big enough — House and Garden features Mandalay--May ' s development of one-room houses with movable partitions. TAPE NUMBER: IV, Side Two (September 15, 1982) .... 230 Advantages of the open plan which is not divided up into a number of rooms — The Skylight House — May's designs plagiarized — Building prefabricated houses in the fifties. [Second Part] (September 30, 1982) . . . 240 Copyright laws and architecture — Development of the nail-on sash — Lawsuits May has initiated against builders who copied his plans — Lawsuit against Fletcher Jones. TAPE NUMBER: V, Side One (September 30, 1982) 269 May's assistance for architects with legal problems — General Motors' and DeVilbliss's unauthorized use of May houses in advertisements. [Second Part] (January 13, 1983) .... 278 May's opinion that famous people make good clients — Designing an apartment building for Shirley MacLaine and her husband — May's involvement with low-cost housing across the country — Low-cost housing and the problems with building regulations — After designing low-cost housing. May returns to designing more expensive single-family homes — Designs the Mondavi Winery — Mandalay. TAPE NUMBER: V, Side Two (January 13, 1983) 308 Houses with movable partitions — Problems in making skylights too big — Need for space in houses — Need to observe a few basic design rules — Walk-in refrigerators — Indoor swimming pools — Means of heating homes — May's music room — May's book collecting — Antique furniture — Flying — Tendency for artists' work to improve as artists get older — The house for Joe W. Brown that was never built. Index 352 VI BIOGRAPHICAL SUMMARY PERSONAL HISTORY: Born : February 6, 1900, in Debrecen, Hungary. Education ; Elementary and secondary schools in Hungary and Austria; Staatliche Akademie der Bilden den Kunste in Stuttgart, Germany; apprenticeship with Fritz August Breuhaus, architect and designer, Cologne, Germany. Spouse ; Maxine Fife. PROFESSIONAL AND ACADEMIC AFFILIATIONS: Private practice in Vienna, Austria, 1924-1927; Stuttgart, Germany, 1927-1936; Los Angeles, California, 1936 to the present. Member of American Society of Industrial Designers since 1956. MAJOR PROJECTS: 1925 Kopfensteiner House, Szombathely, Hungary 1926 City Hall (remodeling), Szombathely, Hungary 1927 Schmidt House (interior), Stuttgart, Germany 1927/36 Laszl6 office building (interior), Stuttgart, Germany 1928 Apartment interior and furniture for the "Deutsche Kunst Ausstellung , " Diisseldorf, Germany Jeittele (later Jeffries) House, Stuttgart, Germany 1929 Bleyle House (remodeling), Stuttgart, Germany Fleischer House (interior), Goppingen, Germany 1930 American Consul apartment (interior), Stuttgart, Germany Weir apartment (interior), Stuttgart, Germany 1932 Brauchbar House, Zurich, Switzerland Vlll Kahn House, Heilbronn, Germany Marx House, Stuttgart, Germany 1933 Jeittele (later Jeffries) House (remodeling), Surbiton, England 1934 Weir House, Zurich, Switzerland 1937 Bullock's Wilshire department store (interior), Los Angeles, California L5szl6 House, Beverly Hills, California Loewendahl House, Pacific Palisades, California Loewendahl shoe store, Los Angeles, California Weingarten House, Beverly Hills, California 1938 Crenshaw movie theater (now Kokusai Theatre), Los Angeles, California Koster House, Hollywood, California 1939 Auer House, Bel-Air, California Blanke House, "Peasant Acres," Tarzana, California 1940 Harrison House, Holmby Hills, California Philips House, Pacific Palisades, California Rosenson House, Bel-Air, California Shipley House, Hollywood, California 1941 Laszl6 showroom and studio (interior), Los Angeles, California 1945 "PL-47" helicopter terminal (unbuilt project) Saks Fifth Avenue department store (interior), Beverly Hills, California Williams House, Beverly Hills, California 1946 Buchman House, Beverly Hills, California (unbuilt project ) IX Eddy Harth clothing store (now Lanz), Beverly Hills, California 1947 Beverly Hills Hotel, "Rodeo Room," Beverly Hills, California Illing of California Building, Los Angeles, California LSszlO House, Brentwood, California (remodeled, 1953-54) 1948 Zacho House, Beverly Hills, California 1950 "Atomville," a city of the future (unbuilt project) McGaha House, Wichita Falls, Texas 1951 Perlberg House, Beverly Hills, California 1952 Herzog House, Houston, Texas VJohl condominiums. New Orleans, Louisiana (unbuilt project) 1953 McCulloch Corporation offices (interior), Los Angeles, California 1954 Genis House, Beverly Hills, California Hudspeth Center shopping mall, Prineville, Oregon (unbuilt project) Newman House, New Orleans, Louisiana Shong House, Oakland, California 1955 Hertz House and bomb shelter. Woodland Hills, California 1956 Main Building at the Laurel Race Course, Laurel, Maryland Sunbeam Lighting Company offices (remodeling), Los Angeles, California 1958 Brentwood Country Club (remodeling), Brentwood, California 1960 Arizona Country Club, Phoenix, Arizona Walston and Company, Inc., office building, Beverly Hills, California 1961 Fashion Square shopping mall, Scottsdale, Arizona 1963 American City Bank Building, Los Angeles, California Desert Inn Distinctive Apparel store (interior). Las Vegas, Nevada 1964 E. F. Hutton and Company, Inc., office (interior). Universal City, California 1964/73 Hall's department stores, Kansas City, Missouri 1965 Ohrbach's, Inc., department store (interior). Long Island, New York 1966 Robinson's department store (interior), Newport Beach, California V7eir House, Atlanta, Georgia 1967 Stardust Hotel, dining room. Las Vegas, Nevada Swanson's Bridal Salon, Kansas City, Missouri 1968 Ohrbach's, Inc., department store (interior), Beverly Hills, California 1970 George House (interior), Beverly Hills, California (remodeled 1975) 1972 Madigans Store, River Forest, Illinois McCulloch House (interior), Palm Springs, California 1973 Kreedman penthouse, Los Angeles, California 1978 American City Bank Building, Beverly Hills, California 1983 Koster House, Camarillo, California HONORS : First prize for porcelain platter, Julius Hoffman Verlag "Decorative Vorbilder" competition, Germany, c. 1927. XI Second prize for Kachelofen, Meissen Royal China Manufactory's competition, Dresden, Germany, c. 1927. Distinguished achievement award, California Fashion Creators, 1954. First prize for best architectural solution for the use of leather. Leather Group Design Competition, Upholstery Leather Group, 1956. EXHIBITIONS: Apartment interior and furniture in the "Deutsche Kunst Ausstellung , " Diisseldorf, Germany, 1928. PUBLICATIONS: Innendekoration, Oktober 1930, issue devoted entirely to LSszl6's work. Paul LSszl6. Zurich: Conzett and Huber, 1935 (final edition, 1964). Numerous articles in magazines in the United States and Europe. Xll INTERVIEW HISTORY INTERVIEWER: Marlene L. Laskey, interviewer, UCLA Oral History Program. B.A. , Political Science, UCLA; has researched, organized, and led architectural tours of Los Angeles. TIME AND SETTING OF INTERVIEW: Place ; Laszl6's apartment in Santa Monica, California. Dates ; The interview sessions took place on November 7, 21, December 19, 1984; January 2, 18, and February 8, 1985. Time of day, length of sessions, and total number of hours recorded : The first sessions took place in the morning and the last few in the late afternoon. Each session lasted about an hour and a half. A total of nine hours of conversation was recorded. Persons present during interview ; LSszl6 and Laskey. CONDUCT OF INTERVIEW: The interview begins with LSszl6's childhood in Hungary and moves in chronological order through his early work in Europe, his emigration to the United States, and his work here. In general, Laszl6's buildings are discussed in chronological order. The only segment of the interview which is not organized chronologically is Tape VI, Side Two, where Laszl6 discusses a number of more general architectural issues. The interview process itself required considerable patience from both LSszl6 and Laskey, since in the past several years LSszl6 has developed a slight hearing problem and also some speech impairments. Moreover, while LSszl6's command of English is quite colloquial, he does speak with a pronounced Hungarian accent. EDITING: Carey Southall, editorial assistant, edited the interview. He checked a verbatim transcript against the original recordings and edited for punctuation, paragraphing, spelling, and verified proper nouns. VJords and phrases inserted by the editor have been bracketed. Xlll The final manuscript remains in the same order as the taped material. The edited transcript was returned to LSszl6 in September 1985, along with a list of queries and of names requiring identification. He made a number of changes and additions, which are indicated in the manuscript. He returned the approved transcript in October of the same year. Richard CSndida Smith, principal editor, reviewed the transcript. Teresa Barnett, editorial assistant, prepared the front matter and index. SUPPORTING DOCUMENTS: The original tape recordings of the interview are in the university archives and are available under the regulations governing the use of permanent noncurrent records of the university. Records relating to the interview are located in the office of the UCLA Oral History Program. XIV TAPE NUMBER: I, SIDE ONE NOVEMBER 7, 1984 LASKEY: Mr. Laszl6, we're going to begin the interview at the turn of the century in Budapest, where you were born, with the discussion of your family background. LASZLO: First of all, I wasn't born in Budapest. LASKEY: You weren't? Where were you born? LASZLO: I was born in a town called Debrecen. And my father was the bookkeeper for my grandparents' furniture business. And then he married the daughter of the boss. And my grandparents got up every morning half past four in the morning because they had a factory of furniture. LASKEY: Now, your mother's family owned the factory, and they manufactured furniture, or they designed it, or both? LASZLO: V^o designed it? No, [laughing] I don't know anymore; I was too small. So after they got married [they moved in with her parents] . My father, he loved to sleep late, and [my] grandparents got up at half past four in the morning because the factory started at six o'clock in the morning: six [A.M.] to six [P.M.], it was. So apparently to eliminate all these arguments they moved to a different town called Szombathely, which is close to Vienna. LASKEY: Now, what was your father's name? LASZLO: Ignac, Ignac. And so when I was one year old we moved to Szombathely. And my father opened up a furniture store and after a few years, he created a furniture factory. By the way, all the family — uncles, etcetera — were in the furniture business, all over Hungary. LASKEY: This is your father's family, [who] were in the furniture business? LASZLO: Yes. LASKEY: But your father had originally been a bookkeeper? LASZLO: [laughing] A bookkeeper, yes! A handsome fellow; I've [searches through papers] somewhere the photo. Then after a few years my grandparents built a big house for their daughter, my mother, in Szombathely, which was a small town, so our building was the tallest. LASKEY: This was your house? LASZLO: It was a big apartment house which had, on the main floor, stores. LASKEY: And was it there that your father had his furniture business, then? In the main floor of the apartment building that you lived in? LASZLO: Yes. And the plant, factory, was outside of the town. But if you would ask me about my childhood, it was a very happy childhood. We all loved each other, you know. I had three sisters and two brothers. LASKEY: You were a large family, then? LASZLO: Yes, and we had a wonderful life. We were well- to-do people, not rich, but well-to-do people, and so to me it was wonderful. I was a child. And then, of course, this was before the war started. LASKEY: VVell, this would be before World War I — LASZLO: [laughing] Yeah. LASKEY: Right? When you were still, there was still a lot of optimism in the world. LASZLO: And what happened, this was the reason that I moved around so much because, because the whole world, at least my world, was upset. You know, the war touched us more as you people here would even think about it. Which means everything stopped. Nobody bought furniture. Nobody was interested in anything else but to win the war. LASKEY: Now this is the First World War that you're talking about. You actually went through two wars then? You were — LASZLO: I was in the army in Hungary and I was here in [the] army too! [laughs] LASKEY: But before that, when you're still in your child- hood, before the war comes — In your own house, since your family was in the furniture business, were they involved in the creative end of it, in the design, in the artistic end of it? LASZLO: Oh, yes; my mother redecorated [the family quar- ters] every year. [laughter] Of course we had all the furniture. But she was talented at doing things. And of course as the children grow up, so naturally she created a girls' room and a boys' room, and so it was very nice. And then in '14, they send me to Vienna to study. LASKEY: Well, but before that, when you were very young, did you go to school? Where did you go to school? LASZLO: In Szombathely. LASKEY: You went to school in Szombathely? V7hat kind of a school was it? LASZLO: A Jesuit school [Premontrei] called a Gymnasium. Which meant we had two high schools: a Gymnasium which prepared the people for becoming lawyer [s] and doctors and architect [s] , it was. And then another commercial school which taught people for business. So I went to this Jesuit school, a wonderful school; all priests. Wonderful school really. LASKEY: Now you went there when you were about how old? LASZLO: Ten years old. LASKEY: About ten years old. How about, did you get any artistic training there? LASZLO: No, no. * [As a matter of fact, my teacher com- plained to my mother that I couldn't even draw a straight line! (The truth was I wasn't interested at the time.)] * Mr. Laszl6 added the following bracketed section during his review of the transcript. LASKEY: Did you — what I'm really — I guess I'm really asking is at what point, how young were you when you developed your interest in art? LASZLO: I believe my first interest was awakened in Vienna. LASKEY: Being around furniture designers and in the life that you lead — ? LASZLO: No — LASKEY: Nothing had started there? LASZLO: No, no. First of all, at that time in Hungary, especially a small town, [only my parents] knew about furniture design. You go back just like nobody knew about the jets, going to the moon. So in Vienna, you know, [the] beauty of the town and — [telephone rings, tape recorder turned off] LASKEY: I have one other question before we go on to Vienna. Because you did come from essentially a middle- class background, did that give you access to museums or to art? At a young age that you might have been exposed to these things? LASZLO: Oh, yes. First of all, I didn't have radio or TV, which means we did so-called "cultural life," with music, and talking to people, and social gatherings which were more important as today. Because today, you know, TV's. And we had a big furniture store, which had, I don't know. sixty different rooms: dining room[s], and bedroom[s], and [so forth]. But the walls were empty. So each year, twice, [an] art dealer came to make an exhibit. He rented the walls to put up all his paintings. Instead [of] getting paid, my parents preferred to get two paintings, every year it was. So we were full of paintings after a few years. [laughter] So we saw ourselves-- Of course, this was a part of the education; an impetus. Later on, in Vienna, everything was so beautiful and so different and so exciting. Do you know Vienna? LASKEY: No, I don't, I'm sorry. I mean I've never been there, I know about it from reading. Had you been to Vienna before you actually left home to go to school there? Had you traveled at all when you were young? LASZLO: My father took me always along on his business trips to Austria and Budapest. And we had at home a German governess, so we learned German. And of course my parents spoke German, too, you know, because we had--so close to Vienna. And Austria-Hungary was one nation, until  18. And so I remember [laughing] from the-- We went to Vienna--and I was eight years old also--and Father took me to [the] circus from America: Barnum, or what — ? LASKEY: Oh, Barnum, Barnum and Bailey. Ringling Brothers, Barnum and Bailey. LASZLO: Barnum and Bailey. [laughs] And I remember today they were three different shows [that] went on: Buffalo Bill, many things. So actually I went already as a child to Austria, Vienna. And in Vienna, I felt [at] home. And I was there a year studying in school. And after a year, in the meantime, the war broke out — LASKEY: OK, now you went to study, your family sent you to study in Vienna for a year; this was in 1914. And then you were saying earlier about how beautiful Vienna was. Was it touched-- Was the war to change that very much, the way it looked? LASZLO: You know, as a young person, nothing touches you. I mean — LASKEY: What was your year in Vienna like? LASZLO: As a normal young man who goes out to school, I make friends, I go out, and-- You know, a normal childhood, almost. And so ray father was drafted in the army. And maybe this was the reason that my parents wanted to go to Budapest; I believe so, but I don't know. So, I went to Budapest and [was] in school, and after a few months my uncle [Hugo LSszl6] came — who didn't have children — and he says, "Why don't you come to a place called Temesuar [now, Timosoara]?" (Which was at that time in Hungary, but today is Romania.) So, he said, "I have a large place and no children; I want you to stay with us." So fifteen years old, you don't have a voice to say to go, or not to go, especially at that time in Hungary. So I went to school in Temesuar. After a few months, he was drafted. LASKEY: Now, was it just you who went with your uncle to Romania, or did some of your sisters and brothers go? LASZLO: No, only me. LASKEY: Just you. LASZLO: So he was drafted. He was sent, I don't know where. So I was alone for the year. LASKEY: In Romania? LASZLO: At the time it was still Hungary. After the war, they carved out Hungary and Romania, Czechoslovakia, et cetera. But at that time it was Hungary, but close to Romania. So then, so if I recall, one day it came out that if you enlist in [the] army, you get graduated without any test. My goodness. So I enlisted. [laughs] Did you really? The whole class [laughing] enlisted! VJell, how old were you? You must have only been LASKEY LASZLO LASKEY LASZLO LASKEY fifteen LASZLO: No, it was sixteen-and-a-half or so. LASKEY: We didn't establish your exact birthdate. February 6, 1900. Right at the beginning of the century. I will be 85 in [a] few months. Amazing, that's wonderful. So this would be 1916 LASZLO; LASKEY; LASZLO; LASKEY: then? LASZLO: Yeah, I believe '16, or '17; I don't know anymore. And so I was put in artillery [K.-u.-K. Field Artillery 101]. And it was, of course, at that time, everything primitive, not like here, you know. Barracks and bathrooms, this was [laughing] everything outdoor! But as a young man, you don't even think about it. You just take it. And so finally, I was sent to the Italian front [Vittorio Veneto] . And there was a rule that before you leave Hungary, at the border, medical tests were taken. LASKEY: Even when you were in the army? LASZLO: Yes, which means a captain, army captain — a doctor — had to check over each of us. So the captain apparently was father of a [school] friend of mine. And he said — I remember vaguely — he said, "I can't send you to the front; you are too young." So he send me back to Budapest [to be] in a army institute for nervous breakdowns. LASKEY: V'Jas this his way of getting you out of, so that you wouldn't have to go to the front? LASZLO: Yeah. LASKEY: How did you feel about that? LASZLO: I don't know-- So that I was in prison, because crazy people were — So after — LASKEY: That must have been devastating, wasn't it, for a young man to suddenly be in a situation like that? LASZLO: They didn't care. [laughs] So after a few days of listening to these crazy people — who were partly phony, of course. But I escaped. I went to [the] army again and said, "I prefer to go to the front!" [laughter] So that I was maybe a month at the front when the war ended [November 4, 1918]. LASKEY: Now, which front were you at? Did you go to Italy? LASZLO: Italian front. LASKEY: The Italian front. LASZLO: Of course, fortunately I was in the artillery, which is always twenty kilometer[s] back further! [laughs] And so that I had a problem getting back home again, because the soldiers and the people destroyed everything. They all, people destroyed everything. LASKEY: Really? LASZLO: Trains--smashed the windows; everything. Fi- nally — And I had made in Budapest a beautiful — how you call it, not a shoe, but a — LASKEY: Boot? LASZLO: Boot[s]; beautiful, beautiful. They took it away 10 from me, [the] Austrians. They hated Hungarians, they hated the Germans, so each blamed the other nation [for the defeat]. So finally I came home, and then came the Red, communistic regime [March-July 1919]. I don't know whether you heard about it; Bela Kun was the leader. And they wanted to get me in the Red army. And, so I escaped again and went to Vienna. Finally I applied to a school in Stuttgart. LASKEY: Now, in the meantime, was your family still in Hungary? LASZLO: Yeah, yeah. LASKEY: VJere they able to continue their business after the communist regime took over, or what repercussions were there? LASZLO: Actually what happened — I don't want to bore you with my thing. Actually what happened, even during the war, it was difficult to get the food, or any' merchan- dise. But when the communist [s] came — Like in our case, each day [or two] a man came [to our showrooms] with a piece of paper [stating] that he's entitled to take a dining room [set or something else]. So in a few days, there wasn't any furniture [left]. You couldn't buy a pair of shoe[s], you couldn't get salt; nothing. Which means all stores were empty. All stores were empty. I mean empty, you know, because all [contents] were taken away by the 11 communists. And at the time Austria boycotted Hungary, which means nothing came in. No merchandise, no nothing came in. And that was the reason that after-- And of course the government printed money or [would] write paper, you know. Just print it, which-- LASKEY: — was worthless. LASZLO: — and nobody wanted. And that was the reason that after half a year, it just went kaput, the communistic regime [that] came in. Really, the first Nazi movement started in Hungary. LASKEY: Really? LASZLO: Yeah. LASKEY: This would be about 1918. LASZLO: 'Nineteen. In the meantime, I made an application to the police in Stuttgart. LASKEY: Did you have any problem getting out of Hungary to go to Stuttgart? Was there a problem at the border? LASZLO: I'll tell you, of course. The border, it wasn't, like today maybe: efficient and so on. So I took a carriage with a loaf of bread. And then the soldier — how can I say this — [I said,] "Hi," [and then] I gave him the loaf of bread. It wasn't organized then. LASKEY: [laughs] OK. LASZLO: It was, everything, primitive. We had, in Szombathely, we had altogether two policemen: one for 12 daytime and [laughing] one for nighttime. LASKEY: So it was still fairly easy to get out of Hungary then? LASZLO: So it wasn't, you know — It was, at that time , easy. And so I got reply from the police in Stuttgart that, yes, I can come if I go to school in Stuttgart. So I came to Stuttgart. The school didn't start yet for a few months. So I took a job as a cabinet- maker apprentice [at the Schoettle Company factory] . LASKEY: Did you do that because you were interested, or was it just sort of a throwback to something that you knew? LASZLO: What I believe I wanted — [I] had to do something until the semester started. And it was very nice, and after a few months, I went to school [Staatliche Akademie der Bilden den Kiinste] . It was interesting. But I was restless, because everything was, for me, too slow, school was. Professor [s] were too slow to teach, at least in my opinion. And so, after two years, a friend of mine invited me for Easter vacation to a place called Miinchen- Gladbach. [goes through papers; indicates name of place] And I was there a few days. Before I left, just in the morning before I left, I was reading the newspaper from Koln [Cologne] , where a famous — well, the most famous architect — he wanted to hire a talented designer. So, I was fresh; I didn't have anything with me [to show], anything . 13 LASKEY: You hadn't done any designing at this point? LASZLO: No, I meant I didn't have material to show this man. LASKEY: But had you designed, had you been working on design? LASZLO: Oh, sure, in school, yes. So, it was a Saturday, we were working at that time half-Saturdays [inaudible] . So, I went over [to Koln- Bayenthal] and a secretary [Miss Hugenbruch] told me that Mr. [Fritz August] Breuhaus (that was the name) has a house in Bonn, so if I were interested, I should go over, which was about forty minutes with express train. So I said, "Good." So I went over, just as I was. He was a handsome man; a handsome, tall, handsome man. An elegant, elegant house, really, just perfect. LASKEY: Now this was the secretary? LASZLO: She told me to go to Bonn, if I wanted to see Mr. Breuhaus. So I took this express street car, [and] from Koln went to Bonn. This was Saturday noon. So we were talking but, I don't know, I didn't have anything to show, you know. But apparently he liked me, so [he said,] "All right, if you can be here Monday morning, you are hired." [He] says, "You are all right." LASKEY: You must have convinced him somehow that you had the talentl 14 LASZLO: I don't know, I don't know. So I took the train back to Stuttgart, packed up everything I had left and left the school. Monday morning I started [laughing] working. LASKEY: Now, I didn't understand. The school that you went to in Stuttgart, or the school that you were going to, was it an art school? LASZLO: An art school, yes. LASKEY: VJell, how had you decided on that? To go to an art school? Why or how. LASZLO: Well first of all, my parents figured that I should get an education in Germany in this field, design and architecture, and then come back to Hungary. Of course, of course, I was not interested anymore to go back to Hungary. I got interested in architecture and designing interiors. So I came to Breuhaus, which had a big of- fice. I mean, at that time, eighteen people was a big office, and he had the best commissions in Europe, a lot. So of course — Of course [laughing] I had to learn a lot because I didn't know anything, you know. I worked fourteen to sixteen hours a day, to make up what I didn't know. But after a few months I was all right, and I did many jobs. LASKEY: Were they mainly interiors, or — LASZLO: Both. LASKEY: — were you working on houses, too? 15 LASZLO: Both. LASKEY: Both. LASZLO: Architecture and interior[s]: big building[s]. But not big like here — high rise — but, big building [s]: banks and big homes. I show you later what he did. And I was there a year. And then I got an offer from Essen [Professor Koerner] — which is close to Koln — to go there, [for] employment. And I wanted to go. Then the French occupied this part of Germany. LASKEY: The French occupied it? I didn't know that. LASZLO: [laughing] I know; you people don't know. Germany was supposed [to] pay hundred [s] of billions of reparation [s] . And because they couldn't pay it — So finally the French came in and occupied this part, which was the richest part in Germany, where Krupp is and this and all the big industry, and the mines, including Essen. So I said no. Well, I will not — Because the French had mostly black people. LASKEY: Black people? In Germany? LASZLO: Yes, you know. Because they had colonies in — So they sent mostly soldiers which were black to humiliate the Germans. So instead [of] Essen, I got a job in Berlin [with] an architect called Leo Nachtlicht [of Berlin- Wilmersdorf ] . [laughing] Such a silly name! LASKEY: Just to go back a little bit, at some point when 16 you got out of school, I think while you were still in Stuttgart, had you gone to Paris? Didn't I read that you went to Paris and didn't like it very much? LASZLO: Oh, no, this was later. I was in Berlin, but even in Koln the inflation started, but in Berlin finally it became real bad. Which means, when I went out for dinner, I needed a suitcase for the money. VJhich meant actually, it was one dollar was four billion mark[s]. Four billion! 17 TAPE NUMBER: I, SIDE TWO NOVEMBER 7, 1984 LASZLO: [taping picks up mid-sentence] — that in these times, it wasn't normal? Beginning at '14 to '48, it wasn't normal. So it is not possible to compare it with here, that a person goes to school, a person goes to this— Because everything — So many things happened everywhere, every week, that it is difficult to compare it or even to see a picture [of] how life was. Because of these many political changes in Hungary, in Austria and in Germany. And the money — Inflations in Hungary, in Austria and in Germany and in France. You know, this was unbelievable at times, which one had to be very smart to go even through — in life. Which is difficult [to] explain it, you know, because it is just like an atmosphere. So many things which maybe, to you, seem abnormal, you know. Because you lived here in a very organized way: you went to school, and then high school, and this and this — [laughs] So [it] is difficult. I believe that I lived an interesting life. LASKEY: Sounds like a very difficult life though, after the childhood. LASZLO: At the time, you don't — Nothing touches you; it touches you when you get older. But when you are young, you have so many interests and guts, you know, that it 18 didn't touch me at all, I didn't feel, "Oh, God!" I was always happy and nothing bothered me, really. But looking back, which I seldom do, there was difficult times for the people, [but] not for me as such. LASKEY: Well, when you were in Berlin, this must have been in the early 1920s — LASZLO: 'Twenty-three. LASKEY: And Germany was still in a very depressed state — LASZLO: Oh yes, it was. LASKEY: Did you find then that trying to deal with — To be a designer, to be an artist, or to be an architect, at that time, wasn't it particularly difficult? I would think that would have been an area that--where there wasn't much need at that time. LASZLO: Oh, [there] was plenty to do. LASKEY: There was? LASZLO: My office, not my office, but his [Nachtlicht ' s ] office, was busy. And of course, all these firms — architecture firms--they weren't as big as here. [At] most is six, eight people. Breuhaus was the busiest; had eigh- teen people, but it was maximum, you know. All famous architects had small offices. V7hy? I learned it, too, that if you have too many people working there, then you can't design anymore: all the phone calls, all the social obligations, you know. So it happened to me too when I had 19 more people; finally I gave it up. I said, "No use to get — becoming a business instead of designing." So that was the reason that the famous architects in Europe, like Corbusier, who was the greatest. He didn't have too many people in his office: two or three. So he was able to work really and design everything [himself] . Here, all of the big names, they don't even know how many jobs they have, don't know. LASKEY: They're businessmen, more than architects, now. LASZLO: You know, it just isn't possible, that under the phone calls, the inquiries, and socially-- And to go out and get jobs, because you have hundred or two hundred people in the office, so you have to feed them. So, coming back to it, I was in Berlin, busy, but finally when the inflation got so bad, then I said, "It's time to go to Paris." And so I left Germany and went to Paris. And it was [hard]. Of course I couldn't speak French, and it was cold, and rainy, and unfriendly, and so different from what I learned in Germany: how to walk, how to behave. It was different; so different that, of course, I couldn't get a job; I couldn't speak French. So then, one day I met a gentleman [Mr. Kun] from Vienna who had--he told me--he had several buildings in Vienna, and if I would come back to Vienna, he would keep me busy. So that I was happy to leave France, you know: 20 wintertime, and the rain, the cold. So I went back to Vienna and, of course, he never gave me a job. LASKEY: He never gave you a job? What happened? LASZLO: I don't know, he never [laughing] gave me a job. In the meantime, I opened up my office, January 1 or 2, in Vienna. LASKEY: That's in 1924. LASZLO: 'Twenty-four, yes. And started to work. Which means all I did [was] I took some of my designs and went around. So finally some company gave me a job. [laugh- ter] As a free-lancer. LASKEY: Did you advertise in the papers? LASZLO: No, you can't. No, no, no. LASKEY: You can't do that. How do you make yourself known? LASZLO: I went to several furniture factories. And so slowly I started to make money, and I became [known] . It was easier; here, it's more difficult today because so many people are [in the field]. But at my time, there weren't too many famous people: about, I would say, six, eight excellent people, excellent Austrian architects — excellent people. LASKEY: Well, now at this point, were you more interested in architecture or in interior design and furniture design? Or did you not have a preference? 21 LASZLO: I tell you that instinctively it is easier to get an assignment for furniture as [than] for a house. Which means it involves less money as to give a young man a job [to] design a house. This was my motivation when I came over here. Instinctively I felt it would be easier to concentrate on interiors as [than] to say I want to build a house. So it worked out all right. I became well known. And I got visitor [s] from Germany--strangers, who heard about me in Germany — they gave me jobs. And then I went [in] '27 to Germany to visit all my clients who came to Vienna and gave me the jobs. * [Several furniture-factory owners visited my studio in Vienna. Among them was a Mr. Hans Scherle, owner of Riedinger Ballonfabrik in Augsburg, Germany. The firm had a division for furniture manu- facturing. I designed much furniture for this firm.] And in Stuttgart was a firm, a big firm who made only club chairs. A big firm, but only club chairs. Maybe you heard about the firm here. Knoll? LASKEY: Yes. LASZLO: Now he died years ago--Knoll--but his father was in Stuttgart, in a similar business, but not club chairs, but chairs, simple chairs, but [on a] big, big [scale]. * Mr. Laszl6 added the following bracketed section during his review of the transcript. 22 These are [the] people who engaged me as a free-lancer; [they] made only club chairs, leather — LASKEY: And so you designed — LASZLO: So that all the man — the name was Alfred Buhler — He told me, "We could use you. If you [are] happening to move to Stuttgart, I keep you busy for two years as a free- lancer." And he mentioned the amount he is willing to pay for me each month. So I said, "No, I cannot, I cannot do it because I have my office, which I can't leave, in Vienna [with] two, three good people. But if you find here an- other firm who would give me two years guaranteed, then I would consider [it]." So he called up a big firm called Schildknecht, was the name. [pauses] A big firm. Still in business. LASKEY: Really, are they in Stuttgart or in — ? LASZLO: In Stuttgart. So he gave these two people, two firms — This Buhler — awfully nice fellow, an old gentle- man — he wanted to show me his plant, which was outside of Stuttgart, where he makes his leather. Because all his furniture were, at that time, only in leather, so he had a leather — How do you call it? LASKEY: Factory? LASZLO: So we took the train. And of course at the time — in Stuttgart, in Germany — they had first class, second class, third class, and fourth class. Fourth class was the 23 cheapest. Mr. Buhler: rich man, [owner of] a big fac- tory. Of course, we went in fourth class! A short trip, [laughs] Anyhow, I packed together all my office, my people, and went to Stuttgart. LASKEY: How many people did you have in your office, by then? LASZLO: At that time, in Vienna, three. LASKEY: Three. LASZLO: So we went to Stuttgart. In the meantime, I won two competition [s] in Germany. * [One was for Julius Hoffman Verlag for decorative Vorbilder with Maria Rott. We won first prize.] So when I arrived in Stuttgart I took a studio, a typical one; [an] atelier, you know. It was not even Saturday, [but] all the boxes * [from my office in Vienna had arrived and I was trying to unpack and make a little order when the man who had arranged one of the competitions (for casual furniture design) came to see me with a job to do. A few other people came in, also with work for me. My first big job was the remodeling and furnishing of a home for Herman Schmidt.] LASKEY: That's wonderful. LASZLO: The first few days [brought work] . * Mr. Laszl6 added the following bracketed section during his review of the transcript. 24 I don't believe you know about [a] big exhibit in Stuttgart called [the] Weissenhof. VVhich means, I believe the state promoted this project to invite fifteen or eighteen [of the] most important architects in the world. And each had the freedom to do whatever they want to do. America, Corbusier in France, and Hungarian, and German. And I just came in time to do some help in several of these building [s]. That was in '27. And at the time, worldwide interest was in this Weissenhof project. Because from all over the world the best architect [s] were involved. A big, big, big field. LASKEY: I think this might be a good time, then, to discuss what was going on in design. Because in Germany, certainly, with the Bauhaus and the beginning of the modern movement and in Vienna with the Vienna secession, you must have been there right at the beginning of the change and the creation of the style; it must have been very excit- ing. Did you come in contact with people like [Walter] Gropius? Were you affected by them? LASZLO: Oh, sure, but Bauhaus wasn't as popular a thing in Germany. It wasn't, you know — It was of course — Here, it became [more so], because "Bauhaus." Even in the, many times, in the newspaper they called me a "Bauhaus archi- tect," because it is a good slogan, but to me — They [Bauhaus] had individual architect [s] who were excellent. 25 like Mies [van der Rohe] , like Gropius and — Who came [to America] when the Nazis came, they all came over here. LASKEY: But were they influential? LASZLO: Bauhaus? No, * [not for me]. LASKEY: It wasn't-- You didn't feel the influence in your designs? LASZLO: No, no, no. No. LASKEY: Really? Well, in the exhibition, the 1927 exhibition, what was the trend that — ? LASZLO: All modern, all modern. LASKEY: It was modern? LASZLO: All modern, but so far [as] I remember no Bauhaus was involved. LASKEY: V'Jhen did the modern-- What was your interest — Well, looking at your designs, looking at the books, I can see that you were interested in modern design. How did you become interested in it as opposed to traditional? LASZLO: First of all, to me at the time [there] was only modern, only modern. VJe rejected everything which was period. We were young and uneducated in many ways. We rejected everything period [as] nothing. And of course Germany was, and Austria, was [the birthplace of the] * Mr. Laszl6 added the following bracketed section during his review of the transcript. 26 modern movement. It was the cause of [why] we tended to go in this direction. The '27 Weissenhof affair, it became a great trend setter. And in '28, or '29 it was, was when Mies became famous because he designed the German pavilion in Barcelona. And he did a beautiful job. At that time as he designed what today [is] said [to be] Barcelona chairs. LASKEY: Right. LASZLO: And the government paid everything. This exhibit was very expensive. The building was very small. It wasn't a big building, but beautifully done, beautifully done. And all the furniture, which he designed. And costly; I don't know how much they spent on research [on] how to make these metal chairs — cost a fortune: $100,000, or more; I don't know. Because we all tried to do a similar thing, you know. LASKEY: Really? LASZLO: Oh, sure. LASKEY: Was it because that working with steel was new? LASZLO: Yes, yes. LASKEY: Did you work in steel? Did you do any of your designing in steel? LASZLO: Sure, I did many, but I didn't have the money to figure out how to put it together. But several of us were working on this problem, but it takes a lot of money to figure out that it works. 27 LASKEY: That's interesting, so the German government essentially financed Mies for the development of the Barcelona chair? LASZLO: Oh, yes. Sure, yeah. LASKEY: That's very interesting. LASZLO: And then in '28 there was an exhibit similar I did in Diisseldorf where all of the famous architects in the world [were] invited to create individual areas. I was fortunate to [be] having support of the firm Schildknecht , who paid for my work. We won — I won — I believe, a prize. [It] was a beautiful exhibit in Diisseldorf. Many famous architects were involved. LASKEY: And what did you do in the exhibit? LASZLO: I won a — I don't know who has the photos, you know. LASKEY: Oh. LASZLO: I choose [to create for the exhibit] [inaudible] "an apartment for the lady." It was excellent, excel- lent. I can't find the photos; at that time I wasn't too interested in collecting materials. And beside, there was a move going on — You are losing a lot of stuff, you know. LASKEY: I know. LASZLO: So, I was in Stuttgart and I got busy at once. At once! [laughs] LASKEY: You mentioned, when you came to Stuttgart, that 28 you hac^ just won two competitions. What were they? LASZLO: One was — No, three, actually. One was Meissen [Royal China Manufactory, Dresden, Germany]. They wanted — It was a competition for decorative--Ofen [stove] — ? You know, which heats a room? How you call it? Of course, you don't — LASKEY: A furnace? LASZLO: No, no, no. LASKEY: A heater, a wall — A heater? LASZLO: A heater, but decorative, out of porcelain, ceramic . LASKEY: Oh, a stove? Like a — LASZLO: No, in the living room. Anyhow-- LASKEY: Call it a stove. [laughing] I know what you mean, and I can't — Not a fireplace — LASZLO: No, individual. LASKEY: A heating unit. LASZLO: Heating unit [Kachelofen] . All Paris had it — and Europe — you know, they had these beautiful ceramic — So anyhow, I won second prize. And I designed some furniture; I won the first prize. And then I won, I did with one of my girls [Maria Rott] , I did a decorative — I don't even know [what]--I can show it [a porcelain platter for "Decorative Vorbilder"] to you later on. LASKEY: OK. 29 LASZLO: So I became, very fast, busy— I don't know: well known, in Germany. And if you would ask me about [Max and Maria] Bleyle's house [Stuttgart, 1929-1934], which was~ LASKEY: Yes, it's right here. LASZLO: Now, of course, you understand I was, of course, * [in Vienna] at 1925. LASKEY: Now, was that-- Did you do the entire house? LASZLO: Yes. LASKEY: And what style was it in, what was it like? LASZLO: I [laughing] don't even remember. LASKEY: No? LASZLO: A combination of modern and—you know. [pauses] He was hanged. * [The photo of Szombathely reminded me of a house I did while still in Vienna in 1925 for a Mr. Kopfen- steiner, who was a big contractor in Szombathely. He was married to the daughter of a Mr. Lingauer who was important in the Hungarian Nazi party later on. When the Russians occupied Hungary after World War II, they hanged all the Nazi people, including Lingauer. At the time, though, this family seemed like awfully nice people.] LASKEY: He was hanged? LASZLO: Yeah. He and his father-in-law are in the Mr. Laszl6 added the following bracketed section during his review of the transcript. 30 Hungarian Nazi Party. And after the Russian [s] came in, they hanged all the [Nazi] people. He was an awfully nice person. And then I did in Hungary, at the same time, the city hall in Szombathely [1925-1926]. I don't [laughing] know-- LASKEY: Well, I'm looking at a picture that you've given me of the public square, in Hungary, and it's a charming little city. LASZLO: Yes, it was a small town. LASKEY: It really is. Now when you did a city hall — This isn't — It's a very traditional — what, nineteenth-cen- tury? — square. What did you — Was the city hall done in that style? LASZLO: It was a remodeling [of the meeting rooms] . Similar, but better, this one. You know, here again, all streets were already concrete; no sand, you know. All streetcars were going. And so it was very civilized there. LASKEY: I can see that in that photograph. LASZLO: The town was close to two thousand years old [founded 48 A.D. ] . LASKEY: Two thousand years old? The city is two thousand years old? LASZLO: Yes, almost. It [was] called by the Romans "Sabaria." I believe two thousand; it could be fifteen hundred. [laughs] 31 LASKEY: Give or take a few — a couple hundred years. [laughs] LASZLO: Yes, and so this-- I did many jobs in Hungary at the time, '25: Konditorei [confectioner's shop], a barbershop, and this and this, when I was in Vienna, because it was close to me, close to Vienna. LASKEY: And there still wasn't a problem of getting back and forth from Austria to Hungary? LASZLO: You needed a passport at that time, but it wasn't — Bleyle, they were, I believe, still the largest knitwear factory. Here, Bullock's Wilshire has the merchandise, you know. Of course-- LASKEY: Oh, really? LASZLO: They died, my friends, wonderful people. And how I got this big job, a very big job, [was] that a man who owned a fixture company called Weber. They did some of my homes: the paneling and many things. He came up to me one day and said, "I have a lady friend, she wants to find out whether [you] would be interested to design a sofa for her." He can't tell me the name until I decide whether I will agree to design [laughing] a sofa for her. So I say, "Oh, sure, I do a sofa for her." So he left and after a week he called me up. He says, "I call for you and take you to a place where the lady lives." So we went up--it was [a] hilltop--beautif ul property with a tennis court and 32 everything. And the gracious lady [Mrs. Maria Bleyle] — So it was afternoon — Big house, big house with this butler and two chambermaids. LASKEY: Oh, my. LASZLO: But very nice. It was natural. So she gave us both — this man was her brother; Mr. [Richard] Weber was her brother--she gave us, she served waffles. Excellent waf- fles. So we ate both, between us, at least two dozen waffles. [laughs] To make it short: out of this sofa, it became a many-million dollar job. Not only for them, but for her brother, and his brother. And I was busy all the time for the [Bleyle] family and his [V'Jeber's] family. Wonderful people, wonderful people, wonderful people. LASKEY: Now, did you rebuild the house? LASZLO: Yes. LASKEY: Or remodel it? LASZLO: Yes. LASKEY: Because I've seen pictures of the entrance hall and another room that you did. And it looked very modern, but again, modern with traditional touches to it. LASZLO: They had just a year before finished up an additional house. But when I came along, somehow she wanted a different house. They were very rich people, but not all the — very simple, but very elegant people. So they played tennis and I played tennis, so we became friends. 33 until she died. She wrote me every week a letter, and I wrote her every week a letter. I visit [ed] her [almost] every year on her birthday until she died in '77 [at the age of 89]. But wonderful people, wonderful people. So of course I did many jobs in Stuttgart, many jobs, but big jobs and [little jobs] . LASKEY: Did you design buildings? VJhen you talk about big jobs, you actually were functioning as an architect as well as a designer in Stuttgart? LASZLO: Oh, yes, yes. But someone, you know, a person comes up to you and says, "I want such a job," you don't question them whether it is architecture or interior [design] . LASKEY: Was it usual for a firm to do both architecture and interior design? Because I think today, they are usually separated, aren't they? Isn't that more usual? LASZLO: It is, as a matter — It is today that more and more a big firm is interested to do both. As a matter of fact, [Welton] Becket, [Charles] Luckman, and all these, are interested in interiors, not in furniture, but in interiors. But at that time in Europe — I can show you later on, when we have luncheon, some books which will show — many architects did the same as I did. Of course, I went further because I designed the furniture, too, and the lamps, and the fabrics, and everything. I mentioned, you 34 know, Fleischer. They had a big factory, a paper factory in Goppingen, which is close by Stuttgart. So I did for them a few homes, and did a lot of design for paper merchandise, like toilet paper. I created * [I think] the first printed toilet [paper]. * Mr. Laszl6 added the following bracketed section during his review of the trancript. 35 TAPE NUMBER: II, SIDE ONE NOVEMBER 21, 1984 LASKEY: Mr. Laszl6, in our previous discussions, we started to talk about your architecture and your design, which we described as modern. And I'm trying — What I'd like you to discuss now are the sources of your modernism, whether the fact that you lived in Vienna, following the Vienna Secession, whether the works of Josef Hoffmann or Otto Wagner or Adolf Loos influenced you. I would just like you to address yourself to that. LASZLO: Of course there is an influence which isn't visible influence. I could not tell you that this period, or this architect, or this professors in Vienna influenced me. There is, of course, a school, it was a school [Wiener Werkstatte; the "Secessionists," founded 1897] in Vienna, which was under the direction of Josef Hoffmann. And of course his pupils were of course influenced by Hoffmann. There were names like [Hugo] Gorgl, [Otto] Wlach, [Josef] Franck, et cetera, who were his pupils. And automatically they became, not a clone, but [under] a certain amount of influence by him. I wasn't, you know. I wasn't. I came to Vienna in a later period. And somehow, maybe the fact that I lived in Germany, studied in Germany, and lived in Paris, too; this all mixture influenced me. It wasn't Viennese style. I believe it was my own style 36 which even prevailed after fifty years. It wasn't what you call "Viennese school." LASKEY: I asked that because those particular men that I mentioned--Hof fmann, Wagner, and Loos — did practice in Vienna, and their modernism is somewhat softer than the harsh lines of the Bauhaus. And I see in your modernism more of an elegance than, again, in the Bauhaus. And that's why I ask you the question in trying to wonder what the sources of your modernism are. LASZLO: Of course, what all these people — You mentioned Loos and VJagner and [Josef] Olbrich, [and] there's this Bauhaus. Loos and VJagner lived in a peace which was a peace in the world, especially a peace in Austria- Hungary. And [the] Bauhaus developed after a lost war, which means poverty, which wasn't in Vienna; it was in Germany. LASKEY: That's very interesting. LASZLO: Out of the Bauhaus and out of poverty developed a style which says that "less is more" and somehow attracted the school, attracted the people, who were unhappy with the prevailing style. So regardless of religion, you know, they all went--like Paul Klee, [Wassily] Kandinsky, [Laszl6] Moholy-Nagy, of course [Ludwig] Mies [van der Rohe] — all of these people and more — I forget all the names--they were attracted by this new idea: Less is 37 more. I wasn't connected at all, which means that I was always very individual. I didn't look left or right, [laughs] I was aware of Bauhaus because against Bauhaus, in Germany, developed another circle, you know, which was against the Bauhaus, under the name, at least a part, went under the name Werkbund. Ue had several symposiums, where one group of architect [s] were against Bauhaus. Bauhaus didn't merit the same importance there as in America. V7hy? Because it became a slogan. American [s] loves slogans, you know, and Bauhaus is a good slogan. As a matter of fact, many times where somebody is, was, writing about me, he said, "Bauhaus; he belonged to Bauhaus." [laughing] I didn't belong to Bauhaus! LASKEY: VJell, I do think there is a tendency to lump all modern architecture from the twenties and thirties under the heading of Bauhaus, if it's at all modern. LASZLO: Yes, yes. But the fact is that every style develops, whether it was baroque — [telephone rings, tape recorder turned off] Somehow, of course, at the same time, the French developed a style which partly you call today "art deco," which started actually in, I believe, in Austria under [the] name of Jugendstil. I'll give it [the spelling] to you later. You know, I have books here from German and Austrian period [s] [and] the French period. They produced interesting thing [s]. Of course, always 38 [there] were a few who were talented and created beautiful thing [s]. This is [inaudible] to me. And [during] the many time[s] when I was in Vienna-- If any influence was on me, it was Vienna, the beautiful city: the baroque build- ing[s], and the many beautiful modern buildings. But I was not conscious about it. Looking back — since you asked me, I am thinking about it — and, well, [it's] possible. But it wasn't something as visible as I say, "Oh gosh. All these buildings are beautiful," or, "This piece of furniture is beautiful, I ought to make a similar or — " No, no. I wasn't [influenced] at all. As a matter of fact, this is in my nature. I don't want to be influenced by anybody. And even if I respect work, which I do all the time, res- pect any style. But I wasn't influenced. Which you can see in my work, that even after fifty years, it still looks basically the same as if I would do it today. LASKEY: Well, speaking of that, and taking what you've been saying, I would like you to discuss, in depth, now a house that we also mentioned in the first interview, which was the Bleyle House. First of all, you might describe the setting of the house, the [location] of the house itself, or the site. LASZLO: Of course, the house was in Germany, not in Vienna. LASKEY: Stuttgart, right? 39 LASZLO: Stuttgart. And should I tell you how I got the job or — LASKEY: We talked about that last time: you met her through Mrs. Bleyle's brother, Mr. Weber. LASZLO: Gosh, you remember! [laughter] They had a beautiful location: eleven acres, almost all, everything flat. The most prominent location in Stuttgart. Stuttgart is like a bowl. The [central] city is below them and all the hills are all around. And of course hillside and hilltop were the most expensive, prominent locations. And they [Bleyles] built a house — Later on, they met me and they realized how this house was old-fashioned, dead. LASKEY: Do you remember what the style of the original house was? Was it just a classical style? LASZLO: Yes, it was. But it wasn't a clear [style]. But it was a mixture, you know. And somehow they felt that it isn't the house that they want. So they met me and for- tunately, slowly, I got the whole house remodeled and furnished. And it was, to me, a great satisfaction that I gave the people a lot of pleasure. They loved the house, they loved everything. It is, after all, the — An archi- tect's best place is [when] the client is happy. And we became, beyond the professional aspect, great friends. The house — I don't have the photos of the house — LASKEY: VJell, the first thing I noticed in the entrance 40 hall is the checkerboard carpeting. How did you determine that design? LASZLO: This was of course handwoven. Beautifully handwoven carpet. LASKEY: Now, did you — in having your carpets made — did you go out and contact the weavers, the rug — VJhat would they be — the carpet makers? LASZLO: Oh, yes. I designed it, and it is custom-made by a firm still there [in] Nymphenburg. LASKEY: Ordinarily, in an entrance hall like this, which is very formal, I see that the doorway is marble, they have the oval ceiling, and they have magnificent wood paneling throughout the whole hallway. Why carpeting rather than marble flooring? LASZLO: First of all, the carpet is of course warm, and softer, less noisy. Marble or oak floor, it is beautiful, but it makes a noise [makes pounding sound] . I notice in my son's new house [that] the builder put on, in the entry, marble, because this was salesmanship. But every time — [repeats sound and laughs] LASKEY: Well, I noticed throughout the house that you have wall-to-wall carpeting. That must have been fairly unique at the time, wasn't it? LASZLO: Don't forget these are custom-made rugs and carpet. Everything that I designed [was] custom-made. 41 This part of the house, you would call here, like "family room." Of course, they didn't have children, so it wasn't the matter to be practical about many things, because they didn't have children. But they lived mostly here [in the family room] . LASKEY: In what? What is it? This is right off the main entrance hall; is it the room? And the fireplace. Very interesting fireplace with the formed brick at the end. Did you design that? LASZLO: Oh, yes. LASKEY: And the stairway, the stair railing. LASZLO: That was a beautifully made stair rail. You know, why I don't have photos of the architecture also [is] because when I prepared this book, I figured that it is much easier to get, in America, interiors, as [than] to build a house. So which means I concentrated in selecting photos which — I selected to concentrate on interiors instead of architecture. Which worked out pretty good. LASKEY: When you came to America? LASZLO: Yes. Now, this book was — LASKEY: I'm interested, before we go on from here, the particular chair in, I think we're still in the family room, it's two things. It's light wood, which I think was unusual for the thirties. And it seems to be formed wood, and I assume that that was your design. 42 LASZLO: It wasn't formed. I designed it. As a matter of fact, my ex-wife, who lives here in Bel Air [has one of these chairs] . I designed her house, too. LASKEY: No, I didn't know that. In Los Angeles, or in Germany? Here? LASZLO: No, here. And she has the chair. LASKEY: Really? LASZLO: I hope so! [laughs] LASKEY: I hope so. I hope so, too. It's a wonderful looking, modern-- LASZLO: Of course, it [the Bleyle House] was a big house which had a billiard room, a dining room, and a breakfast room, and — So it means it wasn't important to be practical about many things because they had rooms for all activi- ties. LASKEY: Well, the games room, which is what we're looking at now, is particularly interesting. I found it inter- esting because you have a combination of things, and the beamed ceilings, and again this wall-to-wall carpeting, which I just think must — It wasn't usual to have wall-to- wall carpeting at that time, was it? In the thirties? LASZLO: I have to think about it. [pauses] Yeah. Oh, yes, sometimes. I mean — I don't know anymore. [laughs] LASKEY: There's oriental rugs — LASZLO: No, these are — Of course, I'm able to tell again 43 a story because otherwise it does not make sense. There was in Munich — I believe they are still there, but not to this extent. It was a big building, like here was Barker Brothers [in downtown Los Angeles], a big building. But the whole firm was [full of] antique [s]; but real antiques--the most beautiful merchandise — called Bern- heimer. Beautiful. And everything what you saw, the furniture and so, it was a big experience, including — They had the most amazing collection of rugs which, of course you don't see here the color, which is most exquisite, most exquisite — which you don't get it anymore. And so, I felt to make the room more gemiitlich, and especially where people are working at most to play billiards, you know, that these pieces would soften the effect and at the same time — [telephone rings] And so this was the reason — They were art pieces, like a painting, you know. LASKEY: I see. And then you combined them with, these — The curtains, the draperies, I assume you designed. LASZLO LASKEY LASZLO LASKEY LASZLO Yes. And they're silk, is that right? I don't know anymore, really. I think at some point it said that they were silk. Yeah, yeah, possibly, because it made — had been printed in Switzerland; so it was of silk. LASKEY: We haven't really talked about your interest — how 44 you developed your interest — in design. You obviously — this was fairly early in your career when you did this, but it's a beautiful floral design. And you had already, I think, published a little booklet for the Fleischers of your design — which we will talk about. But when did you start designing fabric? How did you get into the designing of it? LASZLO: I believe it comes automatically. You weren't prepared to do such an interview until somebody had asked you, "Do you want to be an interviewer?" You know, so the same with me, when the people were asking me to do certain designs which, of course, it was wonderful, you know. But it wasn't a plan to do all these thing [s], but it came automatically beside. LASKEY: Really? But the idea, it would seem to me, would be very difficult to design it, and then be able to visual- ize how it was going to look on the fabric. And, then, get the fabric woven or printed to your specifications — LASZLO: It wasn't difficult. [laughs] LASKEY: [laughing] It wasn't difficult? LASZLO: No, it was a lot of fun; never difficult. LASKEY: Did you have the sources in, well, in this case, in Stuttgart — Were there craftsman, were there artists who could readily translate this for you? Or did you say you had to go to Switzerland to have these — 45 LASZLO: No, it just happened that there was in Zurich a certain firm that — I believe that the firm still exists, called [Karl] Eschke. And a wonderful man, who was of [the] greatest taste and understanding — He died many years ago. But the firm, I believe, still exists. Just the finest product, you know, just the finest. And, of course, [it was] automatic that I did the jobs in Zurich. And he visited me at Stuttgart — Eschke — awfully nice person. So, when I had such a job, and he was a specialist, this one [Eschke], so he made it. But when you ask how difficult, especially at the time, it was much easier as [than] today. But today is, [it] became everything so money- minded that people are not really interested in their work; they are only interested in the money they are able to make. Not only in America, but all over the world. But fortunately, at my time, it was still a great satisfaction to create beautiful things without thinking of the money, you know. To make, more or less, the work was the most important thing. And all these people who worked with me were equally congenial to my feelings. We had — The painter did beautiful jobs. Beautiful. I mean, the walls were all lacquer. Lacquer, you know? LASKEY: Lacquer? LASZLO: VJhich means I would — Eighteen, eighteen coats of — [pauses, leafs through papers] Where was it? Here: 46 this room, where — Yellow walls and ceiling, but lacquer, you know. We were furnishing — LASKEY: We're looking at a tea room. LASZLO: A garden room. You know — LASKEY: [simultaneously; unintelligible] — that's made with all the — It says this is — LASZLO: Yes, yes. LASKEY: The curtains are magnificent in those, too. What color were they? Do you remember? LASZLO: All yellow and green. And on this side I built in a big aquarium, but along with all this [laughing] beauti- ful fish, exotic fish. I had-- And even the — They both had — I designed the bird cage, which was beautifully made. Unfortunately, I can't see it here. And of course the carpet, again. Now here, I believe I used a marble floor and this Aubusson rug. All are made in — Near Munich is a place called Nymphenburg, which was the seat of the Bavarian king. So there is a Schloss [castle] , a palais [palace] for the king — still there, you know. And he wanted a china factory — beautiful china, beautiful china, beautiful china — and carpets. Just everything highly artistic. So he collected this group of people to create almost a small industry — LASKEY: VJhat? LASZLO: A small industry, you know. And so this was — I 47 mean — An Aubusson is more of a flat-weave carpet, or rug, and the rest of it was Savonnery called, which was more high-piled. LASKEY: Now, the — In the dressing room, this unit that you built, that's most extraordinary. Could you describe this? Well, it's very moderne-looking . It has — LASZLO: [laughs] LASKEY: [It] is a very streamlined, very elegant — LASZLO: Yes, it was [a] very elegant piece. But it was supposed to close. These are — LASKEY: So that it would have looked like a closet when it was closed. LASZLO: Yeah. Then opened up: here lies the phone, and make-up, which opened up. Make-up, [laughs] I don't even — LASKEY: There's two cabinets on each side, with drawers, rounded drawers. This looks like it's lacquered. Is it lacquered, or is it plastic? LASZLO: Oh, no; lacquer. At that time, plastic wasn't — LASKEY: Well you know, I'm— What is the exact date on this house? I want to — I have to [inaudible]. LASZLO: Nineteen hundred twenty-eight or twenty-nine. LASKEY: [Nineteen] twenty-eight I have, so this is very early. LASZLO: The plastic wasn't used until '35, '36, you know. LASKEY: So again, did this have to be done with the 48 eighteen coats of painting? The lacquering — was it also eighteen coats? LASZLO: Oh, yes. It was the most amazing thing. LASKEY: And the curves of the windows and the cabinets are so subtle. LASZLO: Glass, glass. LASKEY: Formed glass, formed wood. One doesn't see much workmanship like that today, that self-expression. LASZLO: No, they wouldn't be interested. I mean it is possible to do it. But people wouldn't be interested to go through such a process, because — like, glass could break several times until you find out how to make it. But who would be interested to do this, you know? LASKEY: Now, I think that you should talk about what ultimately happened to the house, why we can no longer see any of this. LASZLO: Well, we went back — with my wife Maxine — in '52. But of course we were in [inaudible] with other people, [telephone rings] What they did, they — [sketching] Suppose here was the whole area, you know. Eleven acres is [laughing] a big area. So, they [had] sold the house, which was in ruins — LASKEY: That's what I wanted you to talk about, the fact that the house had been destroyed. LASZLO: Yes, had been destroyed. Please, once more, this 49 part — [continues sketch] Here, they built a new house. So in '52 they lived already in the new house. They sold [a part of] the property, but they didn't do anything — the new owner didn't do anything yet. So we went over, with Maxine, and saw the ruins and saw the pieces. Everything burned out or destroyed and — Anyhow, this was the end of the house and — the war. He died — Mr. Bleyle--! believe, died in '65 or '66 and Mrs. Bleyle died in '77. I went over every year on her birthday [May 21]. We met up in Baden-Baden. I mean, it's a beautiful resort place. And so I went over for a few days and flew back again. LASKEY: Every year? LASZLO: Every year, yes. LASKEY: How wonderful. LASZLO: Until she died. She was already at eighty-nine. And the last time we were together at Baden-Baden, she wasn't always clear. And then she went off to sleep-- [inaudible; pauses] So this was the end of the Bleyle House. LASKEY: That must have been very difficult on you to have seen all that in ruin, wasn't it? LASZLO: I believe that the fact that these people who were so happy and pleasant, with all the richdom, they were so simple, you know, so — how should I say it — it was very easy 50 to live with them. In spite of that they have two chamber- maids, just how you see in the movies: very silent, but clean; everything just so. Two cooks, who cooked just fabulously, you know. And a butler — But still you didn't see any sign of being ostentatious; it was so natural, you know. So, at the end of — It was wonderful for me, and they were wonderful — helping me. LASKEY: Well, we've mentioned the word "elegant" a lot — it has come up in the conversation — which has always been the term that's been applied to your work. Is that something that you feel came from your own experience with your family, growing up in furniture? LASZLO: Yeah, I believe so. I believe so. We lived in a very cultured life at home. Until I left, we had music every week, so people came over to make chamber music and — LASKEY: In your home? LASZLO: Yes, in our home. Which means it was very cultured, civilized, way of living. Unfortunately, it ended with the war and [the] communistic regime. And then came the Hungarian Nazis. So it was a very difficult time — still is — which means it started [in] 1914, and it is still difficult times, you know. Especially today, you hear so many things, which years ago you didn't hear: that European people are starving. But today, you have the radio, TV, and jet plane. Everything. 51 But at that time, I had a very happy childhood, and my parents were just wonderful. So I believe all this country [Hungary] would [be] part of what I did. And, of course, when you live in Vienna and in Germany, and see it all, these many things, these — It is just like a food mixer: you add everything. Of course, I didn't — And then when you design something, it's a result of this many, many wonderful impressions: social, and otherwise. LASKEY: Did your family stay in Hungary, that is, your parents? LASZLO: They stayed; they were killed by the Nazis. LASKEY: Oh, how terrible. I didn't know that. LASZLO: Nine of my family was tortured and killed. LASKEY: Oh, Mr. LSszlfi, that's — LASZLO: So — Anyhow, I wanted to show you, because I don't know whether you have seen this, [going through papers] my house, in a good photograph. LASKEY: Oh, yes. [pause] Well, we're going to get to this a little bit later, and so we'll hold on to that. Before, there's just a — I'm looking at, I'm still looking at this book, because I want to finish up your experiences in Europe before we get you over here. And quite opposite from what you did in the Bleyle House, there's — It's only identified as a flat in Zurich [Mr. and Mrs. Robert VJeir apartment], which is considerably modern 52 in it's, in all its elements, than was the Bleyle House. That is, with much more of the curved, stainless steel, the rounded edges — LASZLO: Yes, yeah. LASKEY: — the definitely modern look. There's still a warmth and a softness to it that I don't see in other modern design. LASZLO: Well, the difference is that this was a big apartment [for young people] on the — You know, a big apartment. But [an] apartment, not a house which they owned and — 53 TAPE NUMBER: II, SIDE TWO NOVEMBER 21, 1984 LASKEY: [It] was designed [as] if it might have been designed for younger people — the flat in Zurich. It has a younger look about it in the modernness of it. LASZLO: Oh, yes. These people, who came over to America, too, in '37 or so — He died [a few years ago], but she is still living in Charlotte, [North Carolina]. Wonderful people. Wonderful people. But it was an apartment. And, of course, her parents were immensely rich — I mean immensely rich — and her mother [Selma V^olff] was like [William Randolph] Hearst. She bought up all paintings: modern, and all the masters, you know. And it was in big cases, never opened. LASKEY: Now what was the name of the people? LASZLO: This was Weir. And her father owned one of the largest textile firm[s], and they had offices in South America, here in Boston, and in Africa — all over. [tele- phone rings; interview continues] But, here too, you know, the people were the loveliest of people, in spite of all the money. Maxine [Fife LSszlS] , when she met them, and they left on the train, Maxine cried [and said,] "How come that we have to live apart?" You know, such wonderful people. LASKEY: Now, how did you meet them? 54 LASZLO: They lived in Stuttgart. The major firm headquarters were near Stuttgart, and they lived in Stuttgart. He was supposed to become a concert piano player until he met her and the father of her said, "No, if he wants to marry you, he has to work for us." So he changed his pro- fession and became an excellent textile man. He learned in London and in New York, and then came back to Stuttgart [and got] married. And then the firm had to leave Germany. The four partners divided the world, and my friend got America. They still own the firm. And I did some work for him in Boston. Then he moved to Atlanta — so I did [laughing] again the Atlanta shop — and finally they moved to Charlotte. LASKEY: North Carolina? LASZLO: Because the factory was in Charlotte. LASKEY: Now before we leave all this, I must have you tell me about this room: the music room. It's the most extra- ordinary-looking room. LASZLO: Now, these are different people [the Jeitteles]. Again, young people who — He was — Again, it's the story, [laughs] He owned — he and his father, [the] family owned — near Stuttgart, a glove factory. Mostly exported to America. So they asked me to design gloves. 55 LASKEY: Oh, you designed the gloves? Really? LASZLO: A whole thing, you know. LASKEY: Did you really? A whole line of gloves? LASZLO: And many times I see here some of gloves which is the same as I designed [laughing] fifty years ago! LASKEY: Is that so? LASZLO: As a matter of fact, when the first zeppelin came to New York—first trip— he asked to design a glove which would commemorate the first trip. LASKEY: Was that the Hindenburg? LASZLO: No, it was a zeppelin. Which means the same [type] aircraft. Whether you meant [the] Hindenburg, which went down — LASKEY: Yeah, yeah. LASZLO: They had several names for the same aircraft. They came several times before [the] Hindenburg dropped, you know. LASKEY: Really? LASZLO: Oh, sure. It was before your time. Many trips came to New York, and to South America. They brought a lot of merchandise and people. And on the first trip to New York, I designed for these people a glove with a zeppe- lin. [laughs] LASKEY: That's wonderful. Do you still have any? They must be collectors items. 56 LASZLO: No, I mean — At that time, who was thinking that in fifty years that I will meet you? [laughter] No — so many things that I made, I've forgotten [until] now, because you ask me; it's good. LASKEY: VVell, it's interesting because — How did they happen to come to you to design gloves? Was it from seeing your fabric designs or your architecture? LASZLO: No, I believe — I believe that at the time, especially in Stuttgart, but even here, there weren't too many designers. Today, of course, there are millions, you know: decorators, designers. But, at that time, there weren't many designers, so the name became the faster known. So I don't know. People were coming to me to design something. And so, young people — and I was young too--so I designed for them the house. Later on, in '33, they [the Jeitteles] moved to England — to Surbiton, which is close to VJimbledon. So I had to decorate the house in England. Which means they sold the house and took a lot of the furniture. LASKEY: Now, which family was this? LASZLO: They called it — They changed their name. Now they are Jeffries. LASKEY: But now this — the music room — the one that I want you to talk about: this was not in London, right? This was in Stuttgart. 57 LASZLO: No, this was in Stuttgart, yes. You know — LASKEY: Yeah, they're next to each other here. But how did this room come about? LASZLO: He was crazy about [Richard] Wagner. Everything was Wagner, you know. He went every year even as a young man to Bayreuth and — to hear Wagner. He played excellent piano and had many friends who came over to play music. And so he wanted a music room with good acoustic[s]. So I don't know how I came onto this idea to make these gold leaf, which is about so big, you know. LASKEY: What, about four inch square? LASZLO: Yeah, four inch square. The whole — [pauses] LASKEY: The walls and ceilings are covered in gold leaf. And did this — There is — The corners, the bend — Is that for acoustics, or was that just part of the design into the house? LASZLO: No — Frankly, I don't know anymore, you know. LASKEY: There's also cabinetry built into one side of the room for a display of records and music that's extraordin- arily beautiful. LASZLO: Yes, all his pas de deux. He collected pas de deux. He had Mozart and Schubert original pas de deux, you know. LASKEY: Really? So then the gold leaf, then, was parti- ally an acoustical consideration? 58 LASZLO: Yeah, it worked excellent, you know. LASKEY: It must have been an absolutely stunning room to — LASZLO: [laughter] Yes. LASKEY: — walk into. What is the cabinetry; what kind of wood was that? LASZLO: We called it — Of course, all veneers have an artificial name. V-Jhich means here, [one would] call it different. But we called it palisander [rosewood] . LASKEY: It looks in the photograph like it's a medium dark veneer. LASZLO: "Amarant" [brand veneer]. Yes, of course it is a black and white [photo] . LASKEY: Yes, that's why I'm trying — We have, then, gold- leaf walls and ceilings, a medium dark wood, and what color was the carpeting? LASZLO: I don't know. LASKEY: Don't remember? LASZLO: I can't remember. LASKEY: I'm sorry we don't have this room in color — LASZLO: The piano is a Steinway. He loved everything American, you know. LASKEY: That's interesting. Whereas Americans want everything to be European. LASZLO: He spend a year or two for his firm, who sold gloves, in New York. So he became — when he came home, 59 [when] he came back again to Stuttgart — American. [laughs] LASKEY: Well, that's the house. LASZLO: That's a different house. LASKEY: But that looks very American. That looks very much like what we think of as streamline moderne, and also what I think of as Californian, except it has a tile roof. How did you come upon that design? Because that's very modern-looking. LASZLO: [laughing] I don't know. LASKEY: You don't remember? Was this in Stuttgart? LASZLO: Yes — I'll show you — but all burned out [in World V7ar II], you know. And it was built [1931-1932] for two brothers [Ludwig Marx and Morris Marx; indicating]: one, and two. So when he had here this curve, he had here — LASKEY LASZLO LASKEY LASZLO Oh, I see — — this curve, you know. So the curves match, the form matches. So everything was — had to be repeated, you see. It was a three-story house, you know. LASKEY: The use of the tile is interesting. What kind of tile is it? LASZLO: I don't remember. LASKEY: It's not the kind of tile we have in Southern California, is it? Or was that used — You don't remember? LASZLO: [laughs] I don't — 60 LASKEY: I'm just surprised to see it in Stuttgart, at that time. LASZLO: [pauses; pages turning] This was American too. VJe had to build the cabinet with--which had built-in water sponge with [it] so the cigars, tobacco, has just the correct humidity. It [is] called humidor, you know, which is a, like-- LASKEY: Now, this is in the same house with the music room? This is the dining room? LASZLO: Yeah, yeah. LASKEY: I noticed in the built-- Again, the touches of the modern come through — that the cabinet holding the glass- ware, the long narrow, built-in — It looks like a work of art; it looks a painting on the wall. [pages turning] LASZLO: This was interesting, because she had a problem seeing it. So it went back and forth, this mirror. VJhen she needed clothes, well, it-- LASKEY: Oh, a make-up mirror in the lady's dressing room. LASZLO: Yeah. LASKEY: What a good idea--when you're trying to put on make-up without your glasses. LASZLO: This is a different house [Walter Kahn House] , again. It's a different house with different people, [pages turning] LASKEY: This dining room is with the checkered floor sort 61 of going into a perspective, and the plastic draperies are--has that, again, the streamlined, sort of streamline moderne look. LASZLO: The floor, I don't know anymore what it was. LASKEY: But what were the draperies? LASZLO: They came out [with] a new idea of plastic, which was new and I liked it, and they liked it, so we put it on, you know. LASKEY: So this must have been in the early thirties then that you'd done this. About '33, '34? LASZLO: It was '32. They left [in] '33. They were — She was a friend of — VJhat was the name of the Dominican dictator? LASKEY: Somoza? No, not Somo — That wasn't — LASZLO: Not Utrillo — LASKEY: We'll have to check that. [Rafael Trujillo Molina] LASZLO: Anyhow, she went to school with this dictator's daughter in Switzerland. What was the name? [laughing] It will come to me. So when Hitler came — they were Jewish--they invited them to come to Santo Domingo. So they moved to Santo Domingo with--they had a child — no, two children. And this dictator — He [Kahn] was, [in] Europe, in [the] tobacco business. So in Santo Domingo he went in the same business, tobacco, of anything — After a few years 62 they came over to New York. And we became again friends, with Maxine, and he died — no, she died, and [then] he died. And-- But, you know, after so many years, people die. VJhen you are young, nobody is dying. [laughs] LASKEY: "We are all immortal." LASZLO: Awfully nice people. This was another house, that [turning pages] was the Fleischer House. He was a bache- lor. LASKEY: Now, the Fleischers we talked about, a little bit, them last time. They were — You did a lot of design work for them, right? Not only for their houses, but you de- signed fabric, you designed furniture. LASZLO: No, paper. LASKEY: Paper, paper, yes. LASZLO: They had [an] immensely large paper factory near Stuttgart called Goppingen. And they were the parents and two boys [Herman and Walter]. [The] boys, they were in my age, you know. Very educated in England. And they had a great export [business] to America and all over the world, in paper goods and everything. Today, of course [it] is different; today, so many people are doing it. But at that time they were the largest. They asked me to design paper napkins. So every year I designed a new line. Then they say, "What can we do with toilet paper?" [laughter] So I say: "Print it." 63 LASKEY: This was in the late twenties? Early thirties? LASZLO: Yes. And they colored it and they print [ed] it. I designed, for both boys, a home in Goppingen, which was about a half a mile from Stuttgart. Both died in England. They left Germany and they went to England. [pauses] I am the only one [laughing] who survived! LASKEY: At that time were you married? In Germany? LASZLO: No, I married here. LASKEY: You married here. But you were skiing, no doubt. You are an avid skier. LASZLO: Oh, yes, I went every year skiing. In Europe too, and here, too. Until I got to [be] sixty years old. I gave it up because at that time our son [Peter Paul LSszlC] couldn't miss school anymore. He was born [in] '50, and [being] sixty, you know — *[It was time for me to quit skiing anyway.] Before, * [when we took Peter skiing,] he didn't miss anything at school, but [when] he became [older] — He went to — Pali [Pacific Palisades] High, is it? LASKEY: Here? LASZLO: Yeah, here. LASKEY: University High, perhaps? Or Santa Monica High? Where were you living? * Mr. Laszl6 added the following bracketed section during his review of the transcript. 64 LASZLO: Pali High, [it] was on Sunset *[in Pacific Palisades]. Anyway, he went to school there — LASKEY: Oh, Palisades High. LASZLO: So he couldn't get away two weeks for skiing, so I gave it up, too. LASKEY: Oh, that's a shame, that's too bad. LASZLO: Yes, but, you know, I loved him so much that, you know, it [he] was part of the fun-- He became, later he went to UCLA, and he became Ail-American in golf. LASKEY: Really? Were you a golf player? Or was that something that he picked up by himself? LASZLO: I belong [ed] to Brentwood [Country Club], and so I took him over and we played together. And the club got a new pro, who was excellent. So, he picked it up, and he became a club champion for four years. At UCLA, a champion for three, four years, you know. *[I gave up tennis when I joined the Brentwood Country Club early in the fifties. The same excellent pro who taught my son to play golf so well never succeeded in making me anything much better than a weekend duffer, but my membership in the club brought many rewards anyway. I completely remodeled and refur- nished in association with architect Sidney Eisenstaht, the * Mr. Laszl6 added the following bracketed section during his review of the transcript. 65 clubhouse. It was a big, old Spanish-style building which used to be called the California Club, and was badly in need of modernizing. The job turned out well, but I learned many things while working on it; the most signif- icant being not to accept any more commissions when you have a committee or "board of directors" to please instead of one man. And the wives of members were another prob- lem. So many thought of themselves as talented decorators and would always complain if their color preference was blue instead of red for the lamps or accent pillows, for example, which I had selected. I was certainly happy when that job was finished and looked good. The best part came later when I was given many jobs to do — homes, mainly, though not exclusively--f or several of the club members, and we always became good friends. Many of these fine people have passed away over the years, of course, though we still see a few now and then. But the friendships I made enriched my life even to this day. Some of the jobs from this period included work for Newfield, Braunstein, Elzer, Isaacs, Abbott, Kafka, Donner, and Stever.] So, what he lost in skiing, he gained — [laughing] LASKEY: He made up in golf. But all that is to come; it's still the early thirties. You're in Stuttgart and very successful. Why would you decide to come to the United States? 66 LASZLO: First of all, I am half Jewish. Secondly, I was so busy doing jobs and — The building department wouldn't give me a permit to use steel beams. LASKEY: They wouldn't? LASZLO: No. LASKEY: Why? LASZLO: Because they needed the steel for armament. LASKEY: Oh. This was in the early thirties? LASZLO: This was actually '35. LASKEY: And, technically, there was no war going on at that time, right? LASZLO: No, but it was, it was already — Like, you couldn't talk about [the] Autobahn, which is a freeway (a German says Autobahn). It was a secret, you know: "You don't talk about Autobahn because it was designed to [handle the] rapid movement of troops." So you didn't — So there was already signs that something is coming. Then this idea of steel, you know. Many other things I can't remember. So I made up my mind to leave Germany, and at that time there was a competition in Europe, all over Europe, for a professorship in Chile. And people who were inter- ested had to send in photos, and etcetera. I got the job. LASKEY: In Chile? LASZLO: Yes, in a school called [the] College of Santa 67 Maria [Universidad Tecnica Federico Santa Maria] , or so. It is outside of Valparaiso. So I sign the contract with the consul of Chile, or whoever it was. And at the same time, some friends of mine came back from a trip to Chile and South America. So we had dinner together; [they] say, "Paul, don't go over there." They said, "They are a hundred years behind. Please don't go there." So I had a hard time to break my contract. LASKEY: They didn't want — They wanted to hold you to it? LASZLO: Yeah. But finally, they say OK. So then, I went to the American consulate in Stuttgart. The consulate was operating two weeks in Stuttgart and two weeks in Vienna. The same people went from Stuttgart to Vienna, so, you know-- I was fortunate it was in Stuttgart. So, to make it short, finally I got the visa. It was-- This was diffi- cult. LASKEY: The visa? Getting the visa was difficult? LASZLO: Yeah, yeah. Today, the Mexicans are coming in, a million. But at that time they were strict, which means that you had to show them that you have [a] means [of support] in America. So you are not [going to] become a burden on the government. I had money — in America or in a land which didn't have money restriction [s] . Which means Germany had a money restriction; you could not take out money from Germany. 68 LASKEY: I was going to ask you about that. LASZLO: But in Switzerland it was free. And in London [it] was free, and in America [it] was free. Anyhow, I had money in Switzerland, and in New York, which I slowly sent it over, when I was able to do it. But I didn't dare to show them, because they were full of spies — Nazi spies — in, you know, the consulate. LASKEY: The consulate too? LASZLO: Yeah. LASKEY: It must have been a very difficult time for existing — LASZLO: Oh, it was! It was. It was a difficult time. But finally-- And of course you had to go [to] a medical examination, and many things. But fortunately, a consular, who lived out in a house that I designed in Stuttgart, arranged with [the] inspector to let me in, because I would be — I would contribute to the American cultural life. So that [is] the way that I got in. And fortunately — I don't know how, I still don't know how — they got for me an American quota number. Which means each nation had a quota starting in '24. Up to '24, when you had twenty dollars, you came in. But in '24, they established an immigration law, giving each nation a proportion of their American population. Which means British was the quota of, I believe, 56,000; Germany was 26,000; Hungary was only 700. 69 LASKEY: That's right, you were still a citizen of Hungary, weren't you? LASZLO: Hungary, yeah. So I don't know how — because it [the Hungarian quota] was taken for ten years ahead--I got a quota number. So here [laughing] I am! LASKEY: Somebody liked you somewhere. LASZLO: [laughter] Yeah. So I came over here; it was wonderful. From the first day on, it was a love affair. LASKEY: What was it like to leave Germany, and Hungary? To leave Europe? You must have been mixed in your feelings somewhat, weren't you? LASZLO: When I [left] the boat from England to America, in '36, I said to myself, "I don't care to come back ever." LASKEY: Really? Was it because the political situation had become so terrible? LASZLO: No, but I believe in spite of the fact that I have a good time and good business and the money, I wasn't emotionally married to, neither to Hungary nor Austria nor Germany, you know. I worked there and had a good time, and I made friends, you know, but I wasn't emotionally in- volved. Here I was emotionally involved. How can you explain it, I don't know. So, of course, after many years, in '52, we went back because my wife, she insisted, you know. She said, "Now, the children are still small, now is the time to go." So 70 we went for three months in '52. And it was too long. I cried every evening, "Oh, god!" Anyhow, we had a wonderful time. We went all in luxury, with American passport. You know: "I['m] American." LASKEY: So 1952 was the first time that you went back after leaving in 1936? LASZLO: Yes. So, of course, I didn't feel anything for Germany, or for, you know— But we enjoyed it, especially she enjoyed it. I remember we came into London— we flew in from New York— [she said,] "I love that, I love that." [laughs] And we flew to Paris, and we took a taxi from the airport to the hotel. [Maxine said,] "I can't believe it; I'm in Paris! I can't — " So to her it was especially important; to me, I knew Paris, I knew London, I knew Berlin, I knew Switzerland. LASKEY: But after all those years, what did it feel like? LASZLO: [pauses] VThere? In Germany? LASKEY: Yeah, probably, Germany, more because that's where most of your — LASZLO: I believe they are still Nazis. LASKEY: Really? LASZLO: They are still, you know. Because of the reason that history is still with them. You know, I remember when the whole world was afraid of Germany. The whole world was scared to death of Germany. They were big, and business 71 was booming, and— So, they remember it, that it was six or eight years, or six years, a wonderful time if you were Germans and you didn't mind the daily [harangue] of Hitler or [Joseph] Goebbels, [Hermann] Goring everyday. I like to look at, here, football. My wife resent [s] it. But when I came over, I went to San Francisco on a trip with a car of mine and came back Saturday morning. I turn on the radio. And we heard football. People were happy, and shouting thing[s], you know; every station was football. It gave me a great feeling that I don't have to listen to Goebbels, and to Hitler, and to these people, but [to] football, you know. People are at peace and enjoying themselves. So this made a great impression on me, which I never forget. LASKEY: I think that's a wonderful place to stop. 72 TAPE NUMBER: III, SIDE ONE DECEMBER 19, 1984 LASKEY: Mr. Laszl6, in our last tape when we had finished talking we had just gotten you to the United States. So I think this time we will pick up with that part of it. When you got off the boat in the United States in 1936, what happened to you? LASZLO: First of all, I was on the boat and was still under the scare of what [was] happening to me: Whether it was real or not; I know not. On the boat the last day, when we landed in New York, we had to go to the big dining room where all the inspectors [were]. LASKEY: This was on the boat? LASZLO: Yeah, yeah, on the boat, you know. It was about six, eight, ten inspectors who checked it over, for your paper[s], including mine. So I was a little bit appre- hensive, you know, to see so many officials. And the first man who was taking my passport was apparently a doctor, you know, who checks over whether they're healthy. So he sees my Hungarian passport and he says, "That son of mine — " Apparently, he was Hungarian. [laughs] LASKEY: Oh, really? Well, that must have made you feel better. LASZLO: So — yes, you said it — at once, I felt a little better. And it went very smooth, and I debarked on my "L," 73 you know. Each person had to go to his initials: "L." I had fifteen brand-new, polished, black luggages. [tape recorder malfunctions briefly; continues mid-sentence] God! How will I go through to open up all these luggages? But before I left I bought in Switzerland a hat, a Borsalino hat, which is, I believe, was the best in the world. LASKEY: The Borsalino hat? LASZLO: The Borsalino, yeah. Very light. And green. Of course, I did not — I liked green, so — I am waiting there, under "L," you know. I'm wondering how will I explain it; I couldn't speak a word of English. LASKEY: That's right. LASZLO: How will I explain it? This is fifteen [laughing] luggages! So, apparently, an inspector came again — a custom [s official] — and he look [ed] at me and he embraces me. I don't know what he said, but he was an Irishman and he saw my green hat! [laughter] LASKEY: Oh, that's wonderful. LASZLO: And so my entry was very pleasant. I didn't have to open up anything. I took a taxi and went to Hampshire House. Do you know New York? LASKEY: Not very well, not very well. LASZLO: Hampshire House is facing the Central Park. LASKEY: How nice. 74 LASZLO: At that time, I remember, [a] beautiful room: five dollar [s] . LASKEY: Oh, my. LASZLO: Which was twenty [ Deutsch] marks . I think, God! I'm spending already [laughing] the money! But I stayed in New York about ten days. And then I met a friend of mine, and we got a car and drove out to here. We went first to Grand Rapids [Michigan] , because the furniture — I was interested in, you know, and at that time. Grand Rapids was [the] center of the furniture industry. Not any more, but at the time it was there. And it was-- We went to a famous factory, the name was Baker. So we went in the showroom, a big showroom, and the man comes out and said, "Mr. Laszl6." So apparently — I didn't remember him — apparently he visited me in Stuttgart, in my studio. Many Americans came over to look around and I would design-- Anyhow — And then we went to Chicago [and] Buffalo to look at the Ford factory. Slowly we came to Denver, and Las Vegas, and Los Angeles. And it was a revelation: beautiful sunshine; Beverly Hills was all green and beautiful and peaceful. It was wonderful, you know, I'll tell you. I fell in love in New York with America, [but] especially, here it was — And at the time, of course, it was easy. I took an apartment in Beverly Hills, where today Neiman- Marcus is. 75 LASKEY: Oh, how nice. LASZLO: And I paid seventy-five dollars for a two bedroom apartment. I bouqht a car because at the corner it was a car dealer. Opposite of Neiman-Marcus , it was a car dealer. So I bought a car. And went to luncheon to [the] Brown Derby. LASKEY: The one on Wilshire? Or the one in Beverly Hills or the original one? LASZLO: Beverly Hills. And I was impressed. At that time they had only girls serving. Pretty girls, apparently, who could make out in the movies. They had this beige-brown, like crinoline, dress, you know? I remember that I paid a dollar for the full luncheon. And [in the] afternoon I went over--I don't know anymore how--and joined a tennis club in — On  Motor Avenue was a club. West Side. LASKEY: I think it's still there. LASZLO: Still there, but under a different name. But at the time, it was the club, because all the famous people, movie stars, they all belonged there. You know? Everybody who had a name belonged there. I loved to play tennis, and I was pretty good. So I joined the club and — I thought maybe I told you — after a few days I got a call. At the time you [could] get a phone in half an hour, you know? LASKEY: I can't imagine it, but I guess there were those days. [laughter] 76 LASZLO: I don't know how, but it was three days after, I got a call. The man [Walter Loewendahl, Jr.] spoke German. And he said to me, "My father [Walther Loewendahl, Sr.] wants to have you design a shoe salon downtown. If you are willing to do the job for three hundred dollars, then the job is yours." LASKEY: Now three hundred dollars had to have been a lot of money. Wasn't it? LASZLO: Three hundred dollars translated in a luncheon at the Derby, which is like two dollars — LASKEY: A dollarl LASZLO: Anyhow, I don't know how, but I did the job and everything was fine. Regardless that I couldn't speak a word of English. I don't know how I did it. Of course, his son helped me; he spoke German and English. So this was the start. After a few days, I was already working. LASKEY: How did he know you were here? LASZLO: Maybe I told you the story in New York that I went down in Hampshire House to look at the menu, a breakfast menu. And of course I didn't know what it is. So a couple at [the] next table, they notice that I don't know what to order, how to talk. So they came over — they spoke a little bit of German — and they helped me to select the breakfast and invited me for a day in New York. LASKEY: How nice. 77 LASZLO: Strange [laughing] people. Strange people. Stranger now that strange people — It was wonderful. So they took me to Long Island — you know, Forest Hills — because they notice that I have [an] interest in tennis, and had luncheon and dinner. And they brought me back to the hotel, and that kind of thing. And I gave her a kiss, you know, but I forgot the names. I forgot the names. But these people [in Los Angeles], these Loewendahls, apparently were a friend of [laughing] them. And they told Mr. Loewendahl about my name and that I am in California; Los Angeles. So he remembered the name from Germany [so] that, as a result, he called me up and I got the job. And then — I don't know anymore--! had many people coming, phoning me. One was Slavick's. LASKEY: Oh, the jewelry store? LASZLO: Yeah. And they were, of course, strangers to me, but they were kind enough to say, "Join us Sunday at" — whatever date. Now they lived here somewhere--you know, Santa Monica; a big house. And he had a workshop where he loved to make furniture. LASKEY LASZLO LASKEY LASZLO Mr. Slavick? This is Mr. Slavick? Yeah. He was a furniture maker too? He died in the meantime. They were older people. but wonderful, you know. And then, I don't know, a lady 78 approached me — a decorator. And she told me that she got a job which is too big for her, and she heard of me, al- ready! I don't know how. LASKEY: Now, you still hadn't — At this point you still hadn't opened your own store, your own office? LASZLO: No, no. But, I believe that [I] was already working on my home office in — I rented the top floor at [the] Fox Wilshire Building [8440 Wilshire Boulevard, Beverly Hills]. The movies, you know? LASKEY: Near La Cienega? LASZLO: Yeah, yeah. LASKEY: Oh, really? LASZLO: It belonged to Mr. [Albert H.] Chotiner. His son is in politic [s]. He supported Nixon, you know. LASKEY: Murray [M.] Chotiner is the son, right? Murray? LASZLO: He had two sons, but only one whom I knew. So I rented the whole floor, and he couldn't believe it. And he said, "Yes, but it [will] cost you a hundred dollar [s] a month; are you able to pay me six — " He spoke a little bit of German. He came from Czechoslavakia, I believe; the old man Chotiner. So he told me, "A hundred dollar [s] a month and six month [s] payment at once, in front of you." So I said, "All right." [laughing] Six hundred dollar [s]! I told him that I want to remodel the whole floor. 79 [Chotiner responded] : "Remodel? Refugee — Remodel the floor? He's crazy!" [laughter] Anyhow, I remodeled. I tell you, this was my best office in Los Angeles. LASKEY: Really? LASZLO: Yeah, beautiful. All the view from that; Los Angeles, you know. And I had a big private office: big, big, big private office. Anyhow, so then, this lady — her name was Jessie something — she told me she got a job which is too big for her— for a couple, [the] Weingarten [s] . LASKEY: For who? LASZLO: Larry [Lawrence A.] Weingarten, who was at that time married to Sylvia Thalberg. She was the sister of the famous producer Thalberg. LASKEY: Irving Thalberg? LASZLO: Yeah. So of course to me, to be [inaudible] without anything, you know. You don't know Europe — Producers in America, you know — *[The name Irving Thalberg didn't mean very much to me at the time because I had only been in America a short while and most Europeans, including myself, didn't know anything about American producers. The only famous movie names I recognized were Charlie Chaplin and Clark Gable.] * Mr. Laszl6 added the following bracketed section during his review of the transcript. 80 LASKEY: Right. LASZLO: Trapped in [the] United States. But that's all you know. So, I met the people. It was a remodeling job in his [Weingarten's] Beverly Hills home [1936-1937]. I did the job, and no problem; [laughing] no problem. LASKEY: How did you get around the language problem? LASZLO: I don't know, I just don't know. In the meantime, this Jessie who-ever-i t-was married a man, an older man [A. Rosenfield], and they wanted to have a house in Palm Springs. So she asked me to design the house, [laughs] which I did. Did that in Palm Springs. [pauses] Then I met, through [the] tennis club, many people. There, a promoter in the club, was a gentleman, a real gentleman, Elmer Griffin, who was the — is the uncle of Merv Griffin and awfully nice. So, in this club, I met a German couple, [Mr. and Mrs. Walter] Jurman. He was at MGM . He composed this famous song: [sings] "San Francisco, open your [golden gate]--" LASKEY: Really? And he's from Los Angeles? LASZLO: But he was a German. LASKEY: He's a German. LASZLO: So we became friends. And after a few weeks he told me he would like to build a house in Brentwood. And he bought already [a] lot on Bristol Avenue in Brentwood. Awfully nice street, you know. So he told me to go ahead. 81 to make the plans, which I did. And we had a contractor. The day we wanted to start he called me up, "Paul, stop everything, I get a divorce." So this job was down. In the meantime--! don't know the correct sequence of these jobs anymore because they [are] about all the same time — and I went to Bullock's, maybe I told you, downtown and talked to the district manager who is in charge of the decorating and remodeling of [the] departments. So he told me, somehow, that he doesn't have anything for me but [that] I should see a Mr. [Raymond C] Dexter at Bullock's Wilshire . So I went to Mr. Dexter with my book of work. And he gave me a job. At first, one department and then, slowly, almost the whole Bullock's Wilshire. LASKEY: Bullock's Wilshire. How did you happen to go to Bullock's? Did you, just because they were a good department store, or did someone tell you there was something that needed to be done? LASZLO: I can't recall; maybe somebody told me, or out of the paper I saw-- I don't know anymore. [tape recorder turned off] LASKEY: How long was your association with Bullock's? LASZLO: Many years, many years. But I did — Of course, [the] Wilshire store went for years because I did two departments [a] year. There [were] several departments. 82 you know, so it went on for years. In the meantime, I did some work in Bullock's Pasadena, that I did. LASKEY: Really? LASZLO: And Bullock's Wilshire, and Bullock's Palm Springs. So in the meantime I bought a lot on Lindacrest Drive in Beverly Hills and started to build my house [Paul Laszl6 House, 1602 Lindacrest Drive, 1936-1937]. And so I worked and I know not anymore how many work [jobs] I did. But soon the house was finished, and it was a good house, interesting house — at the time. * [My wife, Maxine, who is a lot younger than I am, remembers this house well, perched on a hillside overlooking Coldwater Canyon. As a young girl driving by on Coldwater Canyon Road with her parents, she has told me a number of times, how impressed her family was to see it--at night particularly, with all the glass and the superabundance of electric lighting. She says my house stood out like a landmark and that they used to wonder what sort of rich person lived there who could afford all the electricity bills.] You know, today it won't be anything, because today — LASKEY: Can you describe the house? LASZLO: — they are building so many interesting homes. * Mr. Laszl6 added the following bracketed section during his review of the transcript. 83 [Laszl6 looks for photographs of his Beverly Hills home] LASKEY: While we're looking for that — The work that you did, prior to building your own house, for these people that we've been talking about, were you working as an architect? Did you actually build houses? LASZLO: Oh, yes, yes. LASKEY: And then you were also working as a designer? LASZLO: Yeah, yeah. [indicates photograph] This was part of my home. LASKEY: So now this looked — You were up in the hills — LASZLO: [simultaneously; unintelligible] — the downtown [Beverly Hills and westward] , yeah. LASKEY: — looking into, looking toward the city? How would you describe this house? LASZLO: I don't know — modern. [laughs] LASKEY: It's a long overhang. This is a wonderful balcony with an overhang, and it's all a total glass wall looking out into the valleys. It's very modern, but it's not — It's very soft. [turns page] This is very interesting: it looks like there's two steps up to — What is that, a library? LASZLO: It was a combination of a living room and a library. It was a big, big room, and adjacent to the dining room. And then we went down, and it was a full-size floor, which later on became my office. 84 LASKEY: Really? LASZLO: And it was a wonderful time we had. And, of course, the house attracted many people, so I got several jobs, I got from the house. And this was before the war. I did two homes in Bel Air, two or three homes. One big house in Tarzana for a producer, Henry [Heinz] Blanke was the name. He was a producer at Warner's for many years. And so many other jobs. LASKEY: Now these houses that you designed, did you create the design? Or did they generally come to you with some- thing in mind, and you created what they wanted? Or did you — Did they come to you because they liked what they had seen and they wanted you to design something in your particular style? LASZLO: Oh, yes. You know, at the beginning, I had clients--several European people who came over here — who liked my European style, modified according [to] here, the climate, which permitted this all-glass. But they liked what they have seen, so I got-- It was not easy to do a job. At the time, of course, I didn't have clients with a blank check, but people who were--f igured out that it should have cost four dollars a square foot. So it was, in this way, was more difficult as later. But at that time I learned a lot. And then — So people came over from Europe and a couple--! knew the lady from Europe — and they wanted to find a — not a job, but something to do — a business. And they went all over, but he couldn't — So I suggested to him, "Why don't we have a partnership and create an open studio?" I noticed that people are scared of a fee. You don't mind if you see the rest cost $5,000, but if you mention the fee you know that whatever it is, you know, they say, "Plus the fee?" So somehow I felt it is a lot easier not to mention fee, but to say, "This costs so much." And it is a correct fee. So, we went into partnership with the man and myself, and my assistant got a partner, Mr. Eden. So each had a third, you know. LASKEY: OK. So Fritz Eden was your partner, we have to talk about him later. And who was the third man? LASZLO The name was [Hans] de Strakosch. LASKEY: [laughs, pauses to note name] LASZLO: His family had the sugar monopoly in Austria. So we find a half-finished building on [362 North] Rodeo Drive, which belonged to Mr. [George Albert] Hormel. The meat packer? Hormel. And through the real estate agent, he was willing to give me ;515,000 to finish up the building. And if I went over [that] I were to pay for it. So I took it and opened up in '41. Before the war, or before Pearl Harbor. I designed everything: the building, the furniture, the fabrics, the land. It was a big job. 86 but a wonderful job; every item was designed. And we opened up in Ml, I believe; the beginning of the war. And it was fine, everything was fine. But then came Pearl Harbor. So Mr. Hormel, who was grateful to see [the] beautiful job I did in his building, he came up to me — he was an older gentleman — and said, "Because of the war, you don't have to pay me rent." LASKEY: Really? My! LASZLO: Yeah. [laughing] But of course, I did. Awfully nice, you know. Awfully nice. LASKEY: Certainly was. LASZLO: So then came Pearl Harbor, and I felt very patri- otic about it and enlisted in the army. I was already forty-one year[s] old. I wanted to get in the navy, but they wouldn't take me with the glasses. (In the meantime, they changed everything.) But, so, the army — And they send me to Wyoming, Cheyenne. Near Cheyenne; Laramie. And I enjoyed it, you know. I enjoyed the basic training. LASKEY: Really? In Cheyenne, VJyoming? [laughter] LASZLO: Yes. But then I came to commando training, which was interesting too. But then came out [a] ruling that older people are more a burden [than] help. Unfortunately, in my barrack [s] was everybody sick: measles, and so on. I wasn't sick for a day! [laughs] But "older people were 87 a burden," you know. And so they said — the army said — that if a person isn't needed in this age, over a certain age, they can resign [or be] discharged. But they wanted to send me to Alabama to become a grave statistician, which means for [the] whole period of the war. So I said, "No, I don't want to go." And, fortunately, I did some work for the general and I did some work for the officers club, which I designed. LASKEY: Oh, you were actually able to do some designing? That's wonderful. LASZLO: [laughing] If you find out whoever it was — LASKEY: Even in the army you can't stop! LASZLO: So to make it short, I got discharged. I came home. And it was a condition that, if I get discharged, I have to go into a defense industry. So I went to Douglas [Aircraft Company], and the man looked at this and said, "You couldn't [laughs] make this one." Finally somebody told me that the motion picture industry is qualified for "defense industry." So I went to Universal [Studios] and they took me — as a draftsman, in the art department. And, I tell you, I was the worst member of this department, [laughter] It is a different industry, you know; a different field-- LASKEY: Oh, absolutely. LASZLO: So I was there three months. [I wondered] how to 88 get out of it, because [it] started at seven o'clock in the morning there. At three o'clock I quit, and went back to my business. LASKEY: Oh my goodness. LASZLO: So how to get out of this commitment. Now, it is silly, really, to mention it, but they were, they had, each year, a tennis tournament at Universal or — [Any]more, I don't know anymore [where it was]. I was a pretty good tennis player. And several people in the art department said, "Now if you play, be sure to lose to the boss — or whoever it was — because then, if you win, you are fired." So of course this was wonderful for me. [laughing] So, I beat the — [laughs] I was-- [hits table] LASKEY: He really did fire you because you beat him at tennis? LASZLO: Yeah. Of course, they didn't need me because in the movie industry, they are, ninety percent, just waiting until the last moment to make overtime and "golden time." So they did not miss me at all, you know. So I went back full time to my business. In the meantime my partner was drafted. But before they were drafted, I wanted to separate Mr. Strakosch from my business, because he just wasn't flexible. So I bought him out. He went in the army and Eden went in the navy; both for the duration. So I was alone. But in my business. 89 TAPE NUMBER: III, SIDE TWO DECEMBER 19, 1984 LASKEY: Mr. LSszlS, this seems like a good time to go back and pick up a few questions about what we've been talking about. At the very beginning, when you came — V'Jell, first of all, why did you come to Los Angeles? LASZLO: Oh! Even as a young man, of course I heard about California. There was even a song about here, Hollywood. And I was reading a book [in] Hungary, [a] Hungarian book, about an immigrant who comes over here and had a lot of problem[s] in New York and finally he landed in Los Angeles. And he loved to go fishing, here. And he met a girl and had an affair with her, but he got homesick for Hungary and he bought a ticket on a boat from here to go home. And he was on the boat and the girl was saying, "Goodbye." And at this moment he felt that, "Oh, god, suppose she gets a baby, my baby." So he jumped off the boat and became a newspaper writer. And they gave him a job in Honolulu as a fish expert, or somewhere. All this because — I loved to go fishing, too, in Hungary. So all this [inaudible] I come over. I want[ed] to [laughing, snapping fingers] come over. Which I did, and it was fortunate really, and — LASKEY: Did you know Beverly Hills before you got here? LASZLO: No, no. 90 .«^ LASKEY: Did you have people who could guide you to Beverly Hills with your background and your interest and your abilities? LASZLO: No. LASKEY: It seems like such a logical place for you to come. But it was just chance? LASZLO: I got a — maybe I told you — a professorship in Chile, which later on I canceled because all of my friends told me, "Don't go there, it is too primitive for you." So I canceled this contract there, and — But here, of course when you are a tennis player--or a golfer today, but at that time, tennis player — you belong in a club. In a few days you know so many people. As I told you — later on I [will] show you the membership list of the club which Elmer Griffin send it two years ago. LASKEY: You've been in touch with him all this time? LASZLO: No, no. He was a flamboyant and awfully nice person, but he went into so many businesses, you know, and-- But somehow, I don't know why he mail me this for old times' sake, the membership list. And, well, [if] you belonged in the club — especially if you play a game, you know, tennis — you make friends. So, I remember the first week that I was in the club, we went out to a preview to Pasadena. And a gentleman--the name was Walter Huston — he was in this group [of] about 91 five, six people — a very nice person who tried to talk to me, you know. He said — I understood [him] — he was in Budapest and he liked it, or something like that. Of course, I couldn't speak [English]. But he was so nice, really. I told his son, John Huston, later, how nice his father tried to be to me. So anyhow, what did — LASKEY: Well, we're talking about why you — how you ended up in Beverly Hills — LASZLO: I told you, this was the reason. LASKEY: And then, I'm also wondering about, we talked a little bit, but I'd like to talk a little bit more about the feeling in California, in Los Angeles, in Beverly Hills, in the thirties as far as the — for your field — the area of creativity. I think at the time, the modern movement was just beginning to take hold in the United States, but very specifically in Los Angeles. LASZLO: Yes. I believe that a few people, including me, had a great impact to create this typical California style, which became, later on, became famous in Europe, too. Because we had the chance here because of the climate to create something which was new, [and which] later on became an example. Because, in the meantime, they invented air conditioning, which made it possible to use the same style in [a] snow climate too because [of] air conditioning and heating [the] home. Well, at the time, there weren't too 92 many architects or decorators here, you know. Today there are millions of them, but at the time it wasn't — it wasn't, you know, a job. So it — A person had to be special to be busy. And apparently these few people, including me, had something special. Because I was always busy. I never had an empty period. So was, I believe, [Richard] Neutra [busy] too. I don't know because I did not follow up his business. LASKEY: Neutra? LASZLO: I mean, I didn't know what he was doing. I knew about him, you know. As a matter of fact, when — During the building of my house [in] Beverly Hills I took an apartment in Westwood, Landfair Avenue, very nice apartment which was just being built. And the owner permitted me to make changes; [it was] overlooking UCLA, and everything. And at the same time Neutra was building an apartment house, just almost across the alley. They couldn't rent it. LASKEY: Well, it must have looked very scary to people. I think that the Neutra — In the thirties the Landfair apartment buildings must have been extremely modern for the area. LASZLO: Yes. But, I mean, I didn't know how busy he is; what he does — LASKEY: You didn't know him personally, then? 93 LASZLO: I met him once, or twice; I don't know. He lived in Silver Lake and I lived in Beverly Hills and somehow we didn't get together. I am not a person who contact [s] other people in the field. LASKEY: But it's interesting because Neutra was building, and Rudolph Schindler was building, modern houses at the time out here, too, and your houses — But they're all quite different. How do you explain the difference in yours? LASZLO: I believe his style was his personal religion. VThich means he believed in this just — just like the pope, you know. [laughing] He wrote the letter and that he believed in. I wasn't the person, you see-- I was more flexible and I enjoyed — I enjoyed being flexible, to create many things, you know. Different kind[s] of things. Because each work is important. Each work deserved respect. And to be as fixed in ideas, it did not appeal to me . I did many things, but basically I followed my own style. But different kind[s] of things; I did all kind[s] of things. LASKEY: Well, your modernism seems to be tempered somewhat with traditionalism, too; it's a softer kind of modernism. LASZLO: Yes, you know. It has, I believe, a certain charm, which is missing [in] some other modern people. LASKEY: But yet, you seem to use — be experimenting with materials; you used more modern materials than was 94 traditional — than were being used in the more traditional housing that was being built here. LASZLO: Yes. I always believed in a certain eclectic design, which means it shouldn't be everything just strict this way. LASKEY: I also, looking at a book, at some black-and-white [photos] — But from the color pictures I've seen I also think that you used a lot of color, which the strict modernists weren't using at the time. LASZLO: Yes. Yes, this was one of the reason [s] I got some jobs, because I was more colorful than the others, you know. Especially here, people like color. Then, I jump again, to [the] early [sixties]: Mr. [Joyce Clyde] Hall, from Hallmark, that he approached me. I told you the story, didn't I? They were, for three months, trying to find a designer in New York, Chicago, in Paris, and London, who would design a new store for them in Kansas City, [Missouri] . And they could not find what Mr. Hall liked. And Mr. Hall had a house in Malibu. Well, he came out — Hall — from time to time. And at this period, when they were desperately, apparently, looking for a designer who can design a store for them. They were here, he was here, and his president of the stores [John D. "Jack" Kaiser] were here, at the same time. And his assistant 95 lady [Jeanette Lee], a very nice person, was here. So Mr. Hall told Jack, "You go, you go to Bullock's and find out who is the best designer in town; you Jeanette Lee, you go to"~I don't know where~"and we'll meet up at luncheon in the [Brown] Derby in Beverly Hills." So they had met us at luncheon. And Jack Kaiser was telling him, "Mr. Hall, I went Bullock's and they said the best designer is Paul Laszie." So Jeanette Lee said, "You know, I went to some- where else and asked them, 'Who is the best designer?' [And they said] 'Paul LSszl6.'" [laughs] And Mr. Hall said, "I just got a phone call from my son (who was in the business), and he suggested to look up Paul LSszl6. [laughter] So they came up to my office [that] after- noon. They came up and — And he was listening, and finally he said, "I don't believe you are for us; [your work is] too colorful, too color — I want all white." So then they left. But after two days, he calls me up — Mr. Hall, who is a king, you know — LASKEY: Yes, Hallmark. LASZLO: Exceptionally smart, you know. Intelligent man. He calls me up and said, "Mr. LSszl6, I don't believe you are for us; too colorful. But, anyhow, why don't you come out, and your girlfriend, to my house on Saturday, for dinner. Be here [at] four o'clock." So we [my wife and I] went out and, to make it short, I took along some of my 96 store work, the photos and everything. [Hall said:] "Too much color for me, I want a white store." So we had dinner, steak; he ate only steaks. And after dinner he says, "Why don't you come to Kansas City to see me, there." So I said, "All right, I would come on Wed- nesday." He said, "No; Monday." So, to make it, in short, I got the job. [laughs] LASKEY: How did he reconcile the fact that you were too colorful with getting the job? LASZLO: Now-- Of course, he was too smart not to know that if a person, if he said that "I want a white store," I can make it white. And it was a wonderful experience even [though] he chewed me out for hours! Boy, oh boy. He got — Dressing down! [laughs] But it became the most beautiful store. And they were happy with it, and his artistic advisor, Mr. Henry Dreyfuss — I don't know whether the name means anything to you. LASKEY: Dreyfuss? LASZLO: He killed himself in the meantime. He and his wife [committed suicide together] . He wrote me a letter to say that how beautiful the store was. It was a beautiful store. Not only beautiful, but on the first day on, it made a profit. On the first day on, you know, it was a success, it was. I don't know whether you know Kansas City. They have a beautiful district like, here, Beverly 97 Hills. And he got the best location, which was saved in this district for an important firm, like Hall's. So it was an experience. So, talking about color! [laughs] LASKEY: Well, to go back to that, or to continue with it, the — As I'm thinking about it, you know, you were de- signing furniture and you were designing your own fabrics, which you had to have made and all these things that you had to have made. So you had to have had around you a group of artists or artisans, or you had to have been in touch with the people who could do these things. Was it difficult in Beverly Hills, again, in the thirties, early forties, to find the people who could do this for you? LASZLO: No. First of all, I designed everything myself. I had good people like an architect who was with me until he retired, an architect. And I had a few good people with me, but no artists, which mean I designed everything. Everything, you know. This was the reason that I didn't want to grow, because if you grow, then of course you can't design. I had once about eight people here, and after a few months I said no, no, no. You know, because — LASKEY: Too many? LASZLO: You know, when you have eight people, then of course it means more jobs, then the phone rings and visitors and the phone and social engagements and this meeting; you can't design. No architect here who had a big 98 office knows even what-- Well, I don't want to say. Anyhow, if you have too many people employed, that means a big business, where you don't have the time to design anything. So I said, "No, that['s] enough for me; I don't want to." And it was all right, at least all right for me. And that's the reason I was able to design everything myself. LASKEY: V^fhat about getting your designs transferred into — To find the weavers and the mills, or the artisans to make the furniture? LASZLO: Weavers? I would — Fabric — We had to use several weavers at that time. Some of it was — Was before your time. Mrs. [Dorothy] Liebes in San Francisco was excel- lent. And here, here was a weaver that I don't know the name anymore. And they did many jobs. In the printed fabrics I got a firm in Zurich and a firm near Stuttgart. LASKEY: So you were still having your fabrics done in Europe then? LASZLO: Some of them. Some of them. Because here people are not interested in small yardage. Because here a firm wants, I don't know, thousands of yards, you know. But in Europe they were, at that time, still able to make a few hundred yards of what you needed. The same with the book [Paul Laszlo. Zurich: Conzett and Huber, various editions, 1935-64] which was printed in Switzerland. I 99 tried to make it here, but the people said, "A thousand copies? We are not interested." But in Switzerland — of course, he [Alfred E. Herzer] was a friend of mine who owned a big firm — they did a beautiful job. But it was possible to make a smaller order filled. Our furniture, we had a firm here, almost all Germans, who worked for me for, I would say, forty-nine years. The man, the last man, he just retired. He's eighty-two [laughing] years old! And of course when it came to fixture work, like paneling, we had here an excellent firm, a big firm, called Standard Cabinet Work[s], who does all the stores and banks, [and] in Las Vegas, the casinos. They did this kind of thing too. They are still in business; very big. So it wasn't a problem of, up to now — Of course, I don't know anymore because I quit. And so it wasn't a problem at all to get the right people. LASKEY: V'That was the climate like as far as your clients were concerned? We think of California, now we always talk about its casual lifestyle. And you came over with rather sophisticated European ideas. How did the clients accept that? And your use of handwoven, hand-designed materials and furniture? LASZLO: They liked it, but you know I didn't have so many clients, which means the people who liked the way I do business, or [the way] I design, they came to me. You 100 know, equally because — You mention [Paul T.] Frankl, people who liked his style, they went to him. LASKEY: Now, I think of your style, especially your furniture style, as being big, in that it was more com- fortable. It feels streamlined, and in the thirties it was somewhat moderne and then in the forties, I hesitate to use the word overstuffed because I think that connotes a style that was not yours, but as being — LASZLO: More elegant. LASKEY: — quite "comfortable." Not the word I want. You know, in that even if it was a straight formed-wood frame, that the seating area would be large and comfortable. LASZLO: Yes. We all did about the same, only in style was [it] different. And I came over in '36 and, like I men- tioned, Frankl, he came over in the twenties, so he was more influenced by America as [than] I was. LASKEY: Did you know Paul Frankl? LASZLO: Oh, yes, yes. He died years ago. He quit his business on [347 N.] Rodeo Drive and moved somewhere, I don't know, Newport or Laguna Beach or — And then he died. We weren't on friendly terms, you know, because he felt that I invaded his territory. LASKEY: Really? LASZLO: Which is natural, you know. But we were several times on the same street. Of course, you don't know about 101 it; it was an excellent firm called Cheesewright [Mason & Co.] So they quit and moved to Pasadena. So several people started all on the same street. LASKEY: This was on Rodeo? You were all on Rodeo? LASZLO: Yeah, yeah. But they couldn't make it, and — Because it takes a lot of work, enthusiasm, and love. But there's a story. When I came back from the war, [laughs] from my army, I got busy, and worked every hours, from six o'clock in the morning until ten o'clock that evening. Then in '45, the end of '45, I got a call from a real estate man. Oh, in the meantime, I sold my house before I went in the army. LASKEY: This is the house on Lindacrest? LASZLO: Lindacrest, yes. And so I came back, no house. And so just after the peace was made, the real estate agent called me up and said, "I want you to meet a client of mine. He want[s] to build a house in Brentwood, and has suggested you. So do you mind to meet us at two o'clock in Brentwood, on the lot, to give us your ideas." So I came out and [met] a nice couple from Chicago, or from Omaha, I don't really know. I knew — Of course, the whole area at that time was empty on Carmelina Avenue. And it was a nice flat lot, so I said, "That's wonderful." So the man said, "OK, I [will] come in, in the morning, to sign the con- tract." I said, "Fine." Anyway, I showed up. 102 * [But the man and his wife did not show up. I never knew what happened until I ran into the real estate agent later. ] So I used to eat the luncheon at Romanoff. Romanoff on, north of Wilshire. LASKEY: It was on Crenshaw, wasn't it? Was it on Crenshaw? Crenshaw and Wilshire? LASZLO: No, it wasn't, no. Romanoff. It shows, you know, that it was before your time. Romanoff was on the same street as my studio on Rodeo Drive. And after many years, he [Michael Romanoff, ne Harry Gerguson] built a place  on south of Wilshire, just behind the Beverly Wilshire Hotel. So Romanoff was very popular, especially during the war; all restaurants and bars were crowded, you know. So I used to eat there, the luncheon at Romanoff. It was excellent food. And one day this real estate man was there and I ask him, "What happened to the people?" He says, "They got a divorce the same evening." And he says — LASKEY: [laughs] They didn't know that in the morning? LASZLO: He says to me, out of a joke, "Do you want to buy the lot?" So I had a lady with me, so I wanted to be very * Mr. Laszl6 added the following bracketed section during his review of the transcript. 103 important. [I] say, "Yes, buy the lot." So I bought [laughing] the lot, [and] built my house [Paul Laszl6 House, 516 Carmelina Avenue, Brentwood, 1946-1947, remodeled 1953-1954] ! LASKEY: Now this is the house that's been featured in a number of magazines and stories. LASZLO: Yeah, yeah. It is in here. LASKEY: But that came later on. You know, you haven't talked about-- LASZLO: [Nineteen] forty-six. LASKEY: — and we probably should, is your relationship with Fritz Eden. LASZLO: With who? LASKEY: V^ith Fritz Eden. LASZLO: Fritz Eden. Now, Fritz was working for a firm in Stuttgart who did my work, executed my work, you know. He was a salesman, and as a sale — He was a young boy at that time when I met him. But he learned to [do] this old- fashioned bookkeeping and so — And he married a Jewish girl [Dorothy] in Stuttgart. So when Hitler came, they left and went to New York, both, he and she. We kept in touch, and I got so busy, you know. So I wrote to them, "Do you want to come out and help me? With the business end of it?" [He replied,] "Sure." So he came out. He's [laughs] still here . 104 LASKEY: How long were you, how long was he — He was your business manager basically. He was with you for a long time . LASZLO: Until we quit. I still talk to him every day. LASKEY: That's amazing, that's wonderful. Well, I see I had asked you about the Crenshaw movie theater [3020 Crenshaw Avenue, Los Angeles, 1944] in one of our conversations-- LASZLO LASKEY LASZLO LASKEY LASZLO LASKEY Oh, please don't — — and you got very — [laughing] It wasn't — Oh, god! — one of your favorite jobs. This was the worst. V'That was the story on that? What was the story on the — LASZLO: The story is that they were two Germans who wanted to build this movie house. They came to me, unfortunate- ly. Because they should have gone to a person who did already movie [theaters] but — So I designed a building and it came in [at] — instead [of], I don't know, [$]50,000 — [$]60,000. Oh, it was, this was — Today, it wouldn't make any difference, because $100,000 more, no differnce. But at that time they were crying and shouting and every- thing. So which means we have to cut and cut and cut and cut and cut, until nothing was left; a terrible building. 105 LASKEY: Well, it was unique in that it was almost a — The parking entrance: you drove off the street under a canopy, right? LASZLO: Yes, I believe so, yes, I-- LASKEY: So that if it was raining, or whatever, you could let people off — LASZLO: I believe so, I believe so. LASKEY: — and then drive into — LASZLO: I don't even want to remember! LASKEY: — the parking lot. [laughing] Well, it's still being used as a theater today, so it couldn't have been that bad. It's the Kokusai Theater. It's one of the few theaters to show Japanese films in Los Angeles. LASZLO: Really? LASKEY: And it's still operating. And it's still functioning . LASZLO: How do you know? LASKEY: I went there a couple of weeks ago. LASZLO: Oh, god! [laughing] Oh, god! LASKEY: [laughing] So it's still intact. LASZLO: I'm embarrassed. LASKEY: But I'm looking at a picture of it here, and this is the entrance. LASZLO: Well, the picture looks good. [laughter] LASKEY: VJith the neon up on the — Rut the neon is gone. 106 And the sign is gone, but the theater is still there, and part of it is still there. You still drive into it. [laughter] Well, how about the Eddy Harth building [9687 V^ilshire Boulevard, Beverly Hills, 1946-1947], that must have been more pleasant. LASZLO: Eddy Harth was a good job. They came to me, they were two partners: Mr. Roth, whose family owned, I believe, Julius Roth, maker of man's clothes. LASKEY: Julian Roth? I'm not — LASZLO: I don't know the first name now. [Louis Roth] Eddy Miller was a salesman. They were partners. They came to me to design the store — the front and everything, which I did. Now, today [it] is a Lanz store, Lanz. Lanz in Beverly Hills? Yeah. Does it still have-- You might describe this LASKEY LASZLO LASKEY window LASZLO LASKEY LASZLO Now, all gone. It's the most unique window. Yes. * [Evidently someone else thought so, too. because a year or so later a remodeling job was done on * Mr. Laszl6 added the following bracketed section during his review of the transcript. 107 store further east on Wilshire Boulevard, somewhere between Doheny Drive and La Cienega Boulevard, just east of Beverly Hills. This Candy Lane candy store had an exact duplicate display window. I never did find out who did the job there, who copied me.] LASKEY: How would you describe it? LASZLO: It worked out very good. It made, after two years we took over the next store, so it was twice the space as it was here. But it worked out good until the partners couldn't get along anymore. And then Eddy Miller left and then went by himself. And Roth died. And apparently they rented, or Lanz bought it; remodeled it, you know. It is almost opposite of Neiman-Marcus. LASKEY: On Wilshire. LASZLO: On Wilshire. 108 TAPE NUMBER: IV, SIDE ONE JANUARY 2, 198 5 LASKEY: Mr. Laszl6, when we left off last time we were talking about the Eddy Harth store that you'd done in Beverly Hills, and I think probably one of the more inter- esting things about it was the fact that you used gold in the glass. Is that so? LASZLO: I believe the interesting thing was more the modern feeling which was introduced at the time. Which means if at that time you looked over Wilshire Boulevard, you didn't see too many modern stores. You know, it was mainly old-fashion [ed] . And I believe it was the first appearance on Wilshire Boulevard to pick a modern store- front and plan. And fortunately the client [s] were very fine people and went along to this new ideas. LASKEY: What was new about it, specifically? LASZLO: First of all, the front; secondly, the plan in which you don't see here: how to display the merchandise. LASKEY: Everything was visible, isn't that right? LASZLO: Yes, yes. LASKEY: When you looked into the storefront, you looked down and could see the various displays, materials displayed. LASZLO: Yeah. And the proof that it worked excellent, in a year or so, they had to increase the store to double of 109 size. Which means this was the first store, in a year or so — He owned the property, you know, so we are talking it over. I made a bigger store, which lasted until the owner died. And finally it was sold, as I told you, to Lanz stores. LASKEY: Right. How did you come upon the design for this store? How did you evolve the design, do you remember? LASZLO: [laughing] That's a difficult question, you know. You get the problem; you work on it; you figure out what good would be for the store, artistically and eco- nomically. And I believe the fact that we used, I used, big windows to see through, to look at into it, made it inviting to people to come in. And it was [a] very popular store, which had excellent merchandise. I mean, I don't want the credit for myself. [laughs] Excellent merchan- dise . LASKEY: So the large windows were not used then at the time? This was something that [was] never used. LASZLO: No, not — LASKEY: And then looking into the window, there's a — it looks like it's brass — room divider that adds a lot of interest to the shop as you're looking through that divid- er. And it also seems to be a device that you will be using in your houses later on. Sort of a dividing, an open feeling. 110 LASZLO: You must take it as a fact that, at the time, in '47, you didn't have as much freedom to get big glass or you know. Because after the war, it was difficult to get anything. So maybe this was the idea: that I divided to get a better feeling, and less glass, you know. Because, if I remember, it was difficult to get this plane glass. LASKEY: Really? This was in 1947? Then— LASZLO: This door was — LASKEY: — what about the materials that you've used here? It looks liked you've used, well, you've used the glass with the gold — LASZLO: This was marble. LASKEY: — the brass and marble. You used very elegant materials. LASZLO: Yeah, because they wanted an elegant store, you know. And it was a fine store. LASKEY: You use indirect lighting, too, or covered lighting. Was that — LASZLO: Partly. LASKEY: — new for you? Was that new, [a] relatively new kind of store lighting? Or had that been used? LASZLO: I don't think so [it was not new]; no, no, you know. But it was important to have the merchandise get the proper lighting. And a combination of incandescent and fluorescent light gave us this fine feeling. Ill LASKEY: Did you have trouble getting any of the other materials? LASZLO: No, I don't think so. LASKEY: Speaking of the war, did you have, when you were designing during the war, did you have trouble getting materials? LASZLO: Yes. LASKEY: What happened to your business during World War II? LASZLO: Yes. First of all, when I came back from the army, the fabrics — [tape recorder turned off] So it was difficult to get many things, you know. And I don't want to bother with some of [the] details, you know. LASKEY: VJell, you were mentioning fabrics were parti- cularly difficult to get? LASZLO: We had a fabric I remember I bought, I don't know how many bolts of white fabrics, and took it over to Western Dye [House, Inc. , Los Angeles] or somewhere, I don't know where anymore, to dye to a color which I wanted. And of course slowly it came back again when they realized that the Japanese won't be here, and the peace was close, you know. Slowly it came back, but still it lasted until 1950 or so until you got the material [more easi- ly] . Because I remember that it was difficult to get, for my house, doors. So finally I got the doors from U.S. 112 Plywood and put [them] during construction in my garage, which was still let open because [it] wasn't finished. And next morning it was all gone. LASKEY: The doors were gone? LASZLO: All the doors. So [laughing] anyhow it shows it was difficult to get the doors. So finally I got the doors, new doors. But only [until] '50 or '51 it was difficult to get; like today, well, you get everything, you know. LASKEY: During the war, were you building houses? Were you designing and building houses? LASZLO: No. I finished up homes during the first year of the war, which [had been] started before December 7, . Like my favorite house, it was Joan Harrison's house [Holmby Hills, 1941]. This came out excellent. She was a lovely lady. She was assistant to [Alfred] Hitch- cock. LASKEY: Oh, really? LASZLO: Later became a producer. And she bought an impossible lot in Beverly Hills, at Comstock [Avenue] and Wilshire. LASKEY LASZLO LASKEY LASZLO Comstock and — ? Wilshire, you know. Wilshire. At the time there was an apartment building where 113 she lived. She wanted her own house, so she bought [an] impossible lot adjacent to the apartment house. The apartment house doesn't exist anymore because they built big high-rise condos, but the house is still there. LASKEY: Is that north or south of Wilshire? LASZLO: It is north of Wilshire. LASKEY: On Corns tock. LASZLO: Actually, I'll show you it, it is this way: [begins to sketch] Here was Wilshire. And here was this apartment, I don't know the name [of] it anymore, you know. This was Comstock. But it was a little side street, but I don't know the name anymore [Birchwood Drive]. And the house was here, but the entry was here. [continues drawing] This was the house, which means this was a hillside. In profile, it was here partly flat here. It went down this way, and down this way. So when you drive here, you cannot even see the house. LASKEY: From Comstock? LASZLO: From Comstock, no. LASKEY: Now is the back — So it was built on a hillside? You had to basically design the house to fit down a hillside? Was that [inaudible] — LASZLO: I did not take down the hillside [laughs] because it was-- [continues sketching] But I designed the house with, here, retaining wall here and here. And then the 114 house was — there are somewhere the photos — and here, you know, which [is] high up, high up from here, but level from this street here. I must have somewhere the photos because [it's] difficult — Won't be here [in the book]. LASKEY: So what was — LASZLO: Oh, yes, it would be here. What was — ? LASKEY: — the basic style of the house then. It was oriented away from Comstock, toward the little street that ran parallel to it. LASZLO: Yeah. It was — LASKEY: And it was on a hilly lot. LASZLO: — a modern home designed for an intellect, a lady. [pauses, as he turns pages] She was [a] bachelor at that time. Haven't seen her for many years. She married and — I remember Clark Gable wanted to marry her, then he changed his mind, and she was very upset. [stops turning pages] Here it is. Here you came — LASKEY: I see, so that — OK. LASZLO: You came in here. Here were the bedrooms, and here I created a garden. Here was a kitchen and a dining room, a living room. LASKEY: So it's a U-shape: it's built around an outdoor patio in the center. I see, again, that you have this sort of latticework. LASZLO: Yeah, grillwork, yes. 115 LASKEY: Is it redwood? This in here, is this redwood? When you design, when you came to California and you started designing houses, did our climate influence the design of your houses? Were they considerably different from your European houses? LASZLO: I believe it was a combination of my European background and of course the influence of California. But so many of my clients, including Joan Harrison — She was an English lady, she came over with Hitchcock. And so it is difficult to make a line [between] what is European, what is American. But it is more Americanist. LASKEY: Well, in looking at this and at your other houses, I see, again, as you say, it's modern, in the sense of not being a traditional period. But it's not modern in the sense of a Miesian box, or a square box. LASZLO: Yes. LASKEY: I see there's wood, there's the flagstone, there's color and brick — LASZLO: A warm feeling. LASKEY: — and its very soft and very warm looking. LASZLO: Now, which was always my style, you know. Basically I didn't persuade my client to accept my own style, you know. But I designed everything to be tailored to the client. She was very happy here. She had all the people, all movie people who came, including Hitchcock. 116 And I was many times there because she liked me and she appreciated getting a home which had a special feeling because it wasn't closed in. In spite of the narrow property, it had a vista from every room. LASKEY: V^ell, the idea of using the patio in the center, or the sort of atrium effect, is so warm. But, again, in many of your houses — some of the others we'll talk about — it's difficult in some cases to figure what's inside and what's outside, which is very nice. I mean right here in the living room, looking out to the patio. The two of them — LASZLO: Yes, I mean, so many people, including writers, are using this expression "to bring the outdoor [s] inside." [laughs] LASKEY: But they sort of run together in many of your California houses. LASZLO: Yes. LASKEY: And I know in your own house, that is, in your Brentwood house — the views, the pictures from the patio — it really is sometimes difficult to tell. LASZLO: Part of the home inside, yes. And here, too, you know. Which means you are able to look here and here and here and here, wherever you were. And she was very happy with it. Many of her friends took the trouble to come up to me. Like David Selznick came to me and said, "Saw your 117 house which you designed for Joan. I believe it is beautiful." I mean not in his sense, because he lived in an old-fashioned house. But he felt that for her, it was a perfect home: modern, you know. He made — He married a Mayer girl. LASKEY: Oh, Irene Mayer, wasn't it, that he married? LASZLO: She was, she is, a lovely lady. A very intelli- gent person. So, anyhow, it was a pleasing result, you know. LASKEY: Well, in the Henry [Heinz] Blanke House ["Peasant Acres," Tarzana] which you did, I think that was before this? LASZLO: It was '39. LASKEY: Yeah, that's more traditional than many of the houses that you did. LASZLO: Yeah. It was a difficult job because both were Germans. Blanke was a German, and his wife at that time, Ursula, was a German. And the two didn't see eye to eye, which is always difficult. LASKEY: Oh, the husband and wife didn't? What do you do in a case like that, as a designer? Do you just go ahead and design what you think should be there? [laughs] Do you mediate? LASZLO: No, you have to have patience, patience, patience, you know, to get a good job and to please both. It came 118 out pretty good, you know, but it has a ranch-type feel- ing. And it was excellent. And you know too, he was in the movies, Warner Brothers. He produced many wonderful pictures: [The] Good Earth, [Life of Emile] Zola. I don't know whether you have seen the pictures. LASKEY: Oh, I have. LASZLO: So he was a wonderful fellow. Later on he became a drunkard, you know, but highly educated. It was a big job, and the funny thing is that I used an American trick. They had a house, an old farm house — old, old, old house — which they wanted to save, somehow. So he had all the designers in the studio, Warners — he worked for Warners — and they tried everything, you know, to fix it; they couldn't. [laughing] So finally he came to me. So what I did, I cut the house in two. LASKEY: You cut it in two? LASZLO: Two, yes. And moved it: one here, one here, [sketches] LASKEY LASZLO LASKEY LASZLO LASKEY LASZLO Literally? You moved the house? Yeah, yeah. Isn't it a picture of it? No, there's no picture here, unfortunately. No? But I — I have one at home, but I don't have one here. But I have somewhere [laughing] a picture of how they were. And so they were-- 119 LASKEY: No, there is, there is. I just — Here we go, I didn't think there was, but is this it? [indicates photo] LASZLO: Yes, yes, '39, yes. This was all new here, this was. LASKEY: That's the patio. Where was this house? It looks like it was out in the valley. LASZLO: Tarzana. LASKEY: Tarzana. Yeah, it looks like it. LASZLO: Actually, they didn't save a penny, but they felt that, well, they saved part of the [old] house. But every- thing was finally new. But they liked the idea, too. LASKEY: [laughs] So you told them you were going to save it. LASZLO: So he, too, had all the movie people there. Every Sunday there was a brunch for his producer [and] director friends and I was often there. LASKEY: Well, again, it seems to be a U-shape, much like the Joan Harrison House, in that the patio — The house is built around the patio. But it has a completely different look, because of the tile roof-- LASZLO: Yes, well, this was the garage here. LASKEY: — and the overhanging rafters. And the more, what would you say, ranch-type — LASZLO: Yes. LASKEY: — or rustic-looking. But again the big windows and with the cross-bars. 120 LASZLO: Of course the pictures were taken before it was completely furnished, you know. Which means, like here, here you don't see furniture. LASKEY: Did you do the furniture too? Did you do the interior on this house? LASZLO: Partly, yes. But they had some furniture from Germany, and so it was a combination of old and new. But the next was Sidney Buchman. He was a wonderful fellow; he died in the meantime. He was a producer and writer at Columbia [Studios] . And he wrote and produced many pictures, like the [Al] Jolson pictures. LASKEY: Oh, yes. I remember those. LASZLO: Unfortunately, after I designed his house, they got a divorce. And he had a beautiful lot on Sunset Boulevard. Big property. LASKEY: Sunset in Beverly Hills, or up in — ? LASZLO: Yes, you know. I believe adjacent, almost adjacent, to this house which this Iranian — LASKEY: Oh, [laughing] yes, the, right in Beverly Hills, right near the Beverly Hills Hotel, within a matter of blocks. LASZLO: It was an excellent design, which I loved. But they divorced the day when we started, or wanted to start, to build. Then he went to New York. Finally he went to the Riviera in France, and he died there. But, wonderful fellow, wonderful fellow. 121 LASKEY: Well, you know, we haven't discussed your house, your Brentwood house, which is sort of, was like one of the first that you did and that other people saw. LASZLO: Not the first because I built the house, my first house in '36 and the Brentwood house in '47. So in the meantime I designed many homes. But of course my house — I told you [the] story how I bought the property, the lot, didn't I? Yes, I did. LASKEY: Yes. LASZLO: And at that time [while building the Carmelina house] I was a bachelor. So nobody — LASKEY: Now this is the Lindacrest house? LASZLO: No, no, no. In both houses I was a bachelor [until late in 1949] . So nobody — LASKEY: In both h — ? Oh, oh, OK. LASZLO: So it was easy for me to do whatever I want, but in the limit of the money I wanted to spend. It was my favorite building, really. And it worked out excellent; we [Maxine and I] had a lot of fun and pleasure for thirty-one years . LASKEY: How did you approach a design for your own home [in Brentwood]? LASZLO: My home? I had it in me for years, you know: how I wanted to live. Which mean[s] it didn't come as soon [as] I bought the lot. It was already in my mind how to 122 live in California. And when I bought the lot — which was a fluke, or whatever it was — it was just the way I wanted to have a house. People would say, "You are crazy to put the house way inside instead [of] at the front." LASKEY: Why did you do that? LASZLO: Because I wanted to have privacy. LASKEY: How did you see California living for yourself? LASZLO: V^Jell, you have to use very, use up words and — LASKEY: That's OK. LASZLO: It has a different feeling in California. Of course, if you were born here, you don't notice it, because you take it as normal. But basically it is different from any other states. And it struck me the first day I ar- rived; you got a pleasant shock. It's beautiful here: the climate, the trees, the green, you know. So, apparently, it was in me already. Fortunately I was able to buy the lot. And it was fun to build it because nobody told me how to do it, how to spend the money, what to do with the lot. [laughing] It was — That's important, you know. LASKEY: Oh, it's very important. It's wonderful that you could do it. And it's interesting that, I don't have a good picture of it here — LASZLO: I have it here. LASKEY: — but I recall the, again that, as you say, almost the cliche term of "inside and outside," that is so 123 pronounced in your house, particularly looking from the patio into the living room. [sound of pages turning] It's very difficult to know — You just have the Y-beams , those beams that are holding up the, what looks like the large cantilevered cover, that then goes into the living room. Is this how — is this your personal vision of living in California? LASZLO: Yes, yes. LASKEY: A lot of glass. Yeah, that's the picture [of the Brentwood house, 1954 version]. Again, the glass and stone; water. It's [a] beautiful stone wall. Looking at the picture, when looking at the picture from the pool, and the wall, it is difficult to know if you're inside or outside. LASZLO: This was part of the reason I wanted the house to be way in, so I am able to use glass everywhere. And we had the sun. LASKEY: Now, you have a very wide overhang, this side here. Was that for sun? For protection against the sun? LASZLO: Oh, yes. LASKEY: I mean, just massive walls of glass here, and they do have draperies on; you had draperies on the glass. LASZLO: Yes, we had some draperies, but actually it was first, when I designed the house, it was only eight feet overhang, and [I] built in some screens which came down to 124 protect against the sun. But after a year or so, I said, no; is too much work. [laughter] So we added sixteen feet more, so we had twenty-four feet overhang. LASKEY: How large was the house? It looks very large. LASZLO: Large: when I sold it, it was about five thousand square foot. LASKEY: Now, the use of stone on the front, is that just because — ? It looks almost like it fits into, just blends into the landscaping. LASZLO: First of all, it represent[s] the privacy idea. LASKEY: Now this, the stone is in the front as you come up to the house. All the rest of the house faces toward the back, right? The pool and the — LASZLO: Now, the new owner put here a plaster wall now. LASKEY: Over the stone? LASZLO: Yeah. LASKEY: Oh, dear. LASZLO: [laughing] It looks to me like, to me, an instant slum house, and he paid two million dollar [s] at least. LASKEY: And he covered over the stone? LASZLO: He wanted to change it; he didn't want to have a LSszl6 house because he is a designer — he thinks he's a designer, too. So he changed everything in a way that it shouldn't resemble a LSszl6 house. LASKEY: Then why did he buy a LSszl6 house? 125 LASZLO: Because he liked that one. [laughter] LASKEY: That's wonderful. How do you as a designer feel about someone going in and doing that to something that you like? Changing the wall — LASZLO: Fortunately, I don't have any feeling about it. LASKEY: You don't? LASZLO: No, you know. Which means that I don't mind to change, if he changes [it]. It won't bother me at all. That's his problem, [laughing] you know? But, interesting is the Beverly Hills Hotel, if you want to talk about it. Now, it was owned by a family, [Margaret and Stanley] Anderson. And they had a big mortgage which was carried by Bank of America in San Francisco. And apparently the hotel, before the war, was half empty. LASKEY: The Beverly Hills Hotel? LASZLO: The Beverly Hills Hotel, you know. Of course, in the meantime, it changed. But at the time it was half empty. [The hotel was sold by the Andersons in 1928; the new owners closed it in 1929. It was reopened in 1933. — Ed.] And apparently they couldn't paid the interest, so the bank sent out its vice-president, Hernando Courtright. LASKEY: Really? He was a vice-president of the Bank of America? LASZLO: In San Francisco, yes. 126 LASKEY: Amazing. LASZLO: So he set out to try to manage it, or get the money out somewhere. He's a very smart and hard-working man, Hernando. LASKEY: But at that time, he'd had no experience in the hotel business? When he came, he was with the Bank of America? LASZLO: [pauses] No — no. So he came out and he tried to — He's a big talker, you know, but interesting man, you know. Great salesman, great salesman. LASKEY: Must be. LASZLO: So, I believe it was '38 or '39 when he approached several people, whom he met socially, to come and live in the hotel. He approached Freeman [F.] Gosden. He was "Amos and Andy." Very nice fellow, awfully nice fellow. But very stingy on money. LASKEY: [laughing] Was he really? LASZLO: He made millions, millions. Anyhow, so Freeman told Courtright, yes, he would move in. At that time, he too was a bachelor; he divorce [d] his wife. LASKEY: Was Courtright at this time acting as manager for the Beverly Hills Hotel? LASZLO: Yes, he was in charge of the hotel. You know, for the bank. So Freeman told him yes, he would take a suite if he [Courtright] would pay for the remodeling and deco- 127 ration and furniture and he [Gosden] can choose his own designer. So Courtright said that's OK. So Freeman was choosing me. And so it started out with Courtright. And he saw what I did for Gosden; he gave me more jobs and more jobs and more jobs and [laughing] more jobs. And we became friends, until '48 or so [when] I finished out the Rodeo Room in the hotel. LASKEY: Now is that [the] Beverly Hills [Hotel], or the Beverly Wilshire [Hotel]? LASZLO: Beverly Hills [Hotel] . LASKEY: That's the one in Beverly Hills, OK. LASZLO: Then, he became too smart, you know. He "knew everything." How to choose the colors, how to do this, how to do this — So [laughing] finally I told to Hernando, you do it. LASKEY: [laughs] That's too bad. LASZLO: And at the time, he engaged Loper. LASKEY: Oh, Don Loper? LASZLO: That one; he died years ago. But he did — Apparently they made a deal that Loper designs for Courtright[ 's] wife [Marcelle Eva de la Llaca Cuillery de Vos Courtright] , who was an entertainer. LASKEY: Oh, I was going to say, I had really thought of Loper more as a fashion designer than as an interior designer. 128 LASZLO: No, he was a fashion designer. And somehow Loper did a design and made Courtright [ ' s] wife['s] outfits. And Courtright give him a job to do rooms at the hotel. So, anyhow, we are still great friends with Courtright. LASKEY: [laughter] You're still friends. 129 TAPE NUMBER: IV, SIDE TWO JANUARY 2, 198 5 LASZLO: Anyhow, finished. Finally, he [Courtright] and his partners bought the hotel and finally he bought out all his partners and then sold the hotel and then moved, for years after, to become in charge of Beverly Wilshire Hotel. LASKEY: Did you design, did you do any of the bungalows for the Beverly Hills Hotel? LASZLO: I did a few, and I remember he told me when Walter Winchell came out at that time he insisted [that] he gets Bungalow 12, which I designed. LASKEY: I've noticed, since we've been looking at your pictures while we've been talking, that many of the photographs were taken by Julius Schulman. How did you know Julius Schulman? LASZLO: I don't know anymore. But he did the first job for me, '37 or so. And he did many work for me, and he does an excellent job, provided that it fits his ideas how to design a house, you know. You know. LASKEY: Oh no, I didn't — LASZLO: Oh, sure. LASKEY: — know he had any ideas how to design a house. I just thought that he was a photographer. LASZLO: [laughing] "I invent it all." He does an 130 excellent job when a room doesn't have furniture. LASKEY: Oh really? LASZLO: But — don't tell him — but when a room has furniture, he's helpless. LASKEY: That's very interesting. I guess I really think of his pictures or his photographs as being exteriors, mostly. But that must be why. LASZLO: And, speaking about interiors. Well, some people are excellent taking interior shots. Some people, like Schulman, they don't want furniture, you know. So he did many jobs for me. And then I engaged Cleveland and Parker. LASKEY: Maynard Parker and Robert Cleveland. LASZLO: Very nice, all are very nice. LASKEY: They are all excellent, too. They're certainly all top in their field. LASZLO: All very nice, you know. LASKEY: But Julius Schulman in particular has gone on to become sort of the dean of architectural photographers, and I wondered if he was at the time you knew him or if he just — LASZLO: He just started. LASKEY: — was another photographer? LASZLO: He just started. You know, after all, it was almost fifty years ago. He just started with me, and with 131 [Richard] Neutra. And he became — He gives lectures today for architects, you know. [laughs] LASKEY: I know. LASZLO: This was, I believe, the last job for Courtright. LASKEY: Now, that's the Rodeo Room. LASZLO: Still there, I don't know in what shape. But he loved it, you know. LASKEY: Well, it's wonderful looking. Again, the wood and glass, and very much that California — The glass looking out into the gardens, and the wood-paneled walls. Did you ever do any work at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel, or you were just friends at that point? LASZLO: No, no. This is a house. I don't know whether you recall Axel Zacho? LASKEY: I know the house that you did [Gilcrest Drive, Beverly Hills, 1950]; I don't know who he was though. LASZLO: He had a store on Wilshire Boulevard, for Royal Copenhagen, and some Swedish glass. What was the name? Was Swedish; glass. He had the exclusive — LASKEY: Yeah, there's Orrefors. LASZLO: He was a character, you know. V\Je bought from him many things, you know. If I ordered half a dozen bowls, he sent me a dozen bowls. Fortunately, because we didn't accept [inaudible]. And then he killed himself. But before he killed himself, I designed a house for him. 132 LASKEY: Now, again, I don't have a picture of it here. But as I recall, it was one of the more modern exteriors. LASZLO: Yeah, yeah. LASKEY: It was a wood exterior and it sort of had the spiderleg bands that came out — LASZLO: We don't have — LASKEY: — from it in the front, in the patio, it was a very — LASZLO: — too many pictures because, I don't know — We have one picture of the streetfront. And he liked the house, she liked the house, but the two didn't see eye to eye, and so finally he killed himself. LASKEY: That's very sad. Now most of these people who came to you, did they find you after seeing someone else's house that they liked? And then they sought you out. LASZLO: Yeah, yeah. LASKEY: How much freedom did you have in most of these houses? In choosing materials and in choosing design, did you — Was there much salesmanship involved? LASZLO: No. I wasn't a salesman. LASKEY: I just meant design wise, as far as — LASZLO: No, I know what you meant, but — Which means I tried to anticipate, by looking at the people and talking to them, how they feel about many things. I didn't have too much problem. Once in a while, you know, but very 133 seldom. Very seldom. So, it wasn't a problem. The money, especially at the beginning where I was dealing with smaller people who didn't have the money to spend, there was a problem. I mean, we had to work very hard to bring it down to a price. Which means, at that time, it was a standard of four dollar a square foot. Now if the contractor came in with a square foot of four-oh-five — which means four dollar and five cent — we had to take out [inaudible] four dollar. Now later on, when I got a client who had more money, it disappears, [laughs] which means I didn't do jobs where the money wasn't available. LASKEY: Were you selective in the clients that you took? LASZLO: Yes, I did that. Fortunately, [laughs] I was able to say, "No, I don't want to do the job." LASKEY: So you did have some control over your design? LASZLO: Oh yes. LASKEY: In the degree of what you chose to do and not to do. LASZLO: Oh, sure. Of course, to a certain degree, you know. I mean, you can't be inflexible, because after [all], you're dealing with human beings. No — but I am able to tell you, and tell myself, that I pleased the people, and we became, all the time, friends; never enemies. All people for whom I designed a house — 134 I did work for a couple, Henry Koster, who was a movie director * [and his wife Peggy Moran, who was a movie starlet] . He started at Universal with the Deanna Durbin pictures. I did five houses for him * [two houses on Outpost Drive in Hollywood, one on Whittier Drive in Beverly Hills, two in Pacific Palisades]; the last one was in Leisure Village in Camarillo. LASKEY: That must have been fairly recently then, wasn't it? LASZLO: Yes, two years ago. And he wouldn't want anything without me. We are still great friends. So basically it was a pleasant work. And the fact that people were happy and pleased, and had enjoyment that I feel — A lady, I did the house, she is telling me, you know, that, "I get up every day, every morning I get up and see the house and what you did [and] I feel happy." So this is of course pleasing for me, too, because this is a part of the purpose to do work; not for money. LASKEY: But it would be nice, it must have been nice to be able to design something that you liked, and then had the client who could both appreciate it and afford it, not have to cut back. * Mr. LSszl6 added the following bracketed section during his review of the transcript. 135 LASZLO: Well, you know, of course if a person is like me, sixty years in this field, I designed so many things that I could keep you busy for a year, you know, to tell you so many things that — which pleases me — I don't need an outside compliment. I enjoy it, but I don't need it. I know when I did a good job and, unfortunately, I [laughing] know when I did a bad job. LASKEY: Well, in sixty years of doing all the many things that you did, you must have also had your share of eccen- trics that you've had to deal with. LASZLO: Eccentrics, oh, yes. [laughing] One of it was here, Beverly Hills. It was a couple: Sam and Sadie Genis. Did I tell you the story? No. She hired me first to do a job in her apartment on Rodeo and Charleville [Boulevard]. Which I did the job, and noticed that she's a difficult person, which means what you mentioned, eccen- tric. Later on, I don't know, a year later on, she wanted to buy a diamond from a firm which doesn't exist anymore, but it was on VJilshire Boulevard and Beverly Drive, called Reingold. A big jewelry store. So she went into the store and Mr. Reingold told her, "I have here [on consignment] a diamond which you can have it; have it for $26,000." LASKEY: This was when? LASZLO: It was, I don't know, twenty-five years ago. So 136 she left. After a week she reappeared at Reingold and says, "I bought the stone directly." So Mr. Reinqold got enraged and hired two men to go up to her apartment, hit her in the head and get the diamond. So the two men [laughing] went up to her place, they hit her head, * [tied her up with her maid and locked the two of them up in a closet. Then they looked all over, but] they couldn't find the diamond. So they went back to Reingold and said, "We couldn't find the ring," or whatever it was. So Reingold told them, "All right, if you didn't, I don't pay you the fifty bucks which I promise [d] you." So they went to the police. He [Mr. Reingold] lost his whole business * [and was sent to prison] . LASKEY: Well, I can imagine; that's shocking. LASZLO: So anyhow, these people moved to Beverly Hills Hotel in the penthouse. And they hired Paul Williams — LASKEY: Oh, the architect. LASZLO: — to redesign the whole big suite and everything, which he did. But she was a difficult person. And she wasn't permitted anymore to go into Mocambo or Saks — LASKEY: [laughs] LASZLO: So she had a fight with Courtright, and finally * Mr. Laszl6 added the following bracketed section during his review of the transcript. 137 Courtright sued her — and him [Mr. Genis] — and they went to court. To make it short, Courtright lost because he used a tape recorder. So he lost. But in [the] meantime, they wanted to move out, so before they moved out, she bought some yellow paint and painted all the walls, the ceiling, just, just — LASKEY: Defaced them. LASZLO: Defaced them. *[Mrs. Genis also strung up a clothesline along her outdoor balcony (which prominently faced on Sunset Boulevard on one of the upper floors of the hotel) and hung up her underwear, corset, panties and stockings to dry in the breeze. Mr. Courtright had an absolute fit about that.] In [the] meantime, her husband called me back, and says, "Paul, I want you to look at a house which my wife wanted to buy, and tell me whether you like it or not." And I told him, "Sam, I don't want to deal with you." LASKEY: [laughs] LASZLO: He said, "Paul, please do me a favor. I don't want anything but you just go there, come back and tell me that the house is all right." So finally I broke down and went out. The house was on Sunset Boulevard just west of * Mr. Laszl6 added the following bracketed section during his review of the transcript. 138 Whittier [Drive] . An ugly house; a slum, old slum house. So I came back and said, "Sam, I don't believe that your wife will be happy with this house." [He replied,] "Please, please, don't say it! I don't want to build a house with her because she drives me crazy." So after a few days he calls me up, and said, "Paul, do you want to remodel the house." I said, "No, I don't want to do a job for you people." [He said,] "Please, please, please. You can charge me anything you want to, you know this." So finally, again, [inaudible] [I] said, "All right, but under the conditions that not you or your wife is going to show up on the job. And you pay me every Friday my fee." So it was an old broken-down house, which didn't — jerry-built. We started to build. It was a cost-plus job. Jackson Brothers did the job. Jackson Brothers were actually in the commercial field. LASKEY: They're contractors? LASZLO: Yeah, big contractors. He was a bishop in the Mormon church, but [a] contractor. Very nice people, because they did some work for Mr. Genis, shopping centers. So he choose Jackson. They didn't want to do the job either! But they were — So anyhow. Every morning, every morning Mrs. Genis was there. LASKEY: Despite your contract. LASZLO: Despite the contract, every morning she was 139 there. And she treated the laborer [s] — She told them, "You S.O.B., my husband has millions! You are such — " LASKEY: Terrible! I'm surprised you could keep the workers. LASZLO: My partner came several times crying in that office. With me, she didn't dare to do anything. She treated the people just that way — and foolish. It cost a fortune to do the job, you know. And so after two months or three months of work, Sam came to me and said, "Paul, every Friday [I have a] problem with my wife, because she is signing the check. Do you mind, I give you my word as a gentleman — [laughing] You have to wait until the job is finished, and I give my word that you get the fee." So what can I say but "all right." So the work — It was a big job, a hillside job, which went down from Sunset to the alley and street below. Most amazing. LASKEY: Well, it's a beautiful house. LASZLO: Retaining walls, thirty-feet-high retaining wall to make it livable. And after a few months he died. He was in an auto accident with his girlfriend who was a sister of this — the girl who was the mistress of this Las Vegas man, I don't even know. LASKEY: Of who? LASZLO: A gambler. Las Vegas. LASKEY: Bugsy [Benjamin] Siegel? 140 LASZLO: Bugsy Siegel, yeah. LASKEY: Yeah, OK. LASZLO: He died, but she [the girlfriend] was alive, you know. And apparently, I didn't know, he bought a house for her. And when he died it came out that he bought a house for her. I didn't know about it until the landscape architect who did this job came to me and told me, "You know, you believe Mrs. Genis was difficult? [Siegel 's girlfriend] is ten times [laughing] as difficult." *[In any case, Mrs. Genis was pressured to pay what Mr. Genis had owed on behalf of Siegel 's girlfriend for the house, the landscaping and the pool. Mrs. Genis didn't complain too much about the house, but having to pay for the swimming pool, too, put her in orbit.] So the job was finished excellent; [the] job, it looked good. LASKEY: It looks great in the photograph. LASZLO: But both died. In an auto accident, she died. LASKEY: This is Mrs. Genis, or [the girlfriend]? LASZLO: No. No. LASKEY: Mrs. Genis. LASZLO: Genis. She didn't have a cent finally, you know. LASKEY: What happened to the house? * Mr. Laszl6 added the following bracketed section during his review of the transcript. 141 LASZLO: They sold it very cheap [at auction] . Maxine was there, at the auction. Finally a man from San Francisco bought it, and he added a room to it. And he called me up and said, "Do you want to look it over to look at the house, what you did, because we did the — we rejuvenated it just the way it was originally done." I don't know what I did. It looked good, you know, and — So this was — I lost the money because, I tell you, this was a difficult job [laughter; inaudible]. *[I lost money on the Genis house because Mr. Genis was killed before the rest of my fee had been paid, and Mrs. Genis refused to honor the debt. I didn't want to have anything more to do with her, let alone file suit against her. So I charged it up to experience and wrote it off as a bad debt.] Then, I [would] like to talk about Goldwater's. Did I? Goldwater's? LASKEY: No, I thought we would get to that a little later, because that's a department store. Just to talk about the houses, your architecture, your residence architecture right now. LASZLO: V>rhat about the William Perlberg House [Beverly Hills, 1950-51]? Have we — * Mr. Laszl6 added the following bracketed section during his review of the transcript. 142 LASKEY: No, we haven't talked about that, that or the [Mr. and Mrs. Charles P.] McGaha House [Wichita Falls, Texas], either one. LASZLO: He was a producer — LASKEY: William Perlberq. LASZLO: — at Fox. As a matter of fact, he made a picture which was my favorite. Miracle on Thirty-Fourth Street. LASKEY: Oh yes. LASZLO: And he hired me to do the job. And he said, "Paul, you go ahead and do what, everything you want. I won't show up on the job." Which he didn't. Only once, he showed up only once. [laughter] Only once; when he showed up, a salesman from, I don't know. Arrowhead Spring Water, tried to sell him something. So he says, "Paul, never again." Only once! l^en we were finished with the house, and furniture, everything, added — LASKEY: And he was never there, he just never came — LASZLO: And she [Mrs. William "Billie" Perlberg] was never there — LASKEY: That's amazing. LASZLO: So [the day everything was moved in and set in place] I gave a party for Mr. [and] Mrs. Perlberg *[in * Mr. Laszl6 added the following bracketed section during his review of the transcript. 143 their new house] . They gave me list of the people, about a hundred people, all movie people: Jack Benny, and George Burns, and whoever it was, Hedda Hopper. I gave the party, and Chasen's catered it. And I put in everything — his clothes, his shoes — before he saw the house. At the party he saw the house the first time. They came seven o'clock and everything was in: clothing, shoes, china. Everything was finished. It was a big party. The music was — dancing, everything. And it was all right. So finally he sold the house because they moved to Palm Springs. And then Mr. [Julian M. and] Mrs. [Leona Hertz] Saks bought the house. LASKEY: This is of Saks Fifth Avenue? LASZLO: He was grandson of the man who created Saks Fifth Avenue. She was the daughter of Mr. Hertz: "You drive Hertz." And she [Mrs. Saks] called me and I designed seven more maids' roora[s] at her home. She was difficult to talk [to] the first few weeks. So I told to Mrs. Saks, "I don't want to work for you." So she brought in the wife of Mervyn LeRoy, Kitty Spiegel was her name. Kitty Spiegel was a daughter of Spiegel mail order house. She was married to Mervyn LeRoy. And so she [Mrs. LeRoy] came in with my successor, and [Mrs.] Saks, said, "Please, please do the job, I will be — " [laughs] And she kept her word. So I finished up the job. LASKEY: Now, this was the William Perlberg House, you're 144 making an addition to it, is that right? This was in the valley, was it? Or was it in Beverly Hills? LASZLO: This was, I believe, was 620 Mountain Drive in Beverly Hills. It is, I believe, [off] Hillcrest [Road] , it is a street which has a circle. Mountain Drive in Beverly Hills. LASKEY: It was a very warm and comfortable-looking house. LASZLO: Yeah, very nice. She [Mrs. Saks] had cancer, nose cancer. She had twenty-eight operation [s] . So I build an overhang over the pool so she should not get sun. And [I] build many things. She was immensely rich. And when I was finished, she always says, "I have to give a party for you because you did such a beautiful job. But I have still a problem with the [upkeep of the] house." She had two cooks. LASKEY: Two cooks? LASZLO: She had a chambermaid, two butlers; and she said to me [laughing], "I have still a problem with the [help]." LASKEY: Well, how large was the house? I didn't recall from the pictures that it was that large. LASZLO: Four thousand square foot, but seven maids were [inaudible]. And every afternoon at two o'clock the butler had to put up a sample setting for the dinner, two peo- ple. One china, one silver, one glass, and everything, [laughing] you know. And finally she gave a big party for 145 me. And again Chasen's catered it, and there was music and all. All her friends, which were important people, were there . LASKEY : Oh, this was marvelous. LASZLO: After that — or before, I don't know — I qot a call from a lady [Mrs. John D. (Frances) Hertz]. She said, "I am Mrs. Saks's mother and I have some work in my house to do. Do you want to come over and talk to us?" So I told to Mrs. Hertz — half a joke, half serious — "I had already Mrs. Saks." LASKEY: [laughing] You didn't need Mrs. Hertz! LASZLO: [laughing] I didn't need you! And she said, "No, we are different, please do it." So we made a date for Wednesday at two o'clock. It was in Woodland Hills, Shoup Avenue; he had one hundred and eighty acres there. So that I was two o'clock there. To make it short, they wanted me to do a big job, you know. I designed it and they approved it; they liked it [Hertz House, V^oodland Hills, 1952-53]. LASKEY: Was this a remodeling of the house? LASZLO: Yes. But mostly remodeling turns out [laughing] that you destroy everything. And they left without giving us a qo-ahead ; they left. So we did not know what to do. So I told Fritz-- My partner calls him up in New York. He was a partner also at Lehman Brothers, this investment banking firm, Mr. Hertz was a partner in New York. So 146 Fritz called him up and told him, "Mr. Hertz, you left before telling us to qo ahead with the job." Mr. Hertz, he spoke very slow, he said, "Yes, it is a large amount of money you want." So Fritz is telling him, "Yes, Mr. Hertz, but you should have, really, the best." So he said, "Yes, you are right, please go ahead." So I did the job, and it was very nice and we became quasi-f riends , which means he trusted me, and he asked me, "I want everything." And then he wanted me to build a bomb shelter [Hertz bomb shelter, Uoodland Hills, 1954-55]. LASKEY: A bomb shelter? LASZLO: Yeah. You saw the picture. So I designed a bomb shelter. LASKEY: We're talking about the early fifties then, right? LASZLO: It was, I believe, '52 or '53. And it was a complicated job, very complicated job, very complicated job. It is just like the same to build a submarine the first time, because nobody knew how to build a bomb shelter. But I mean the way — I meant, the way it was designed: very big, fourteen people, elevator; because he couldn't go down the staircase, he was too old, she was too old, so an elevator would be needed. Building the bomb shelter — And everything was as you can imagine. As a matter of fact, when it was finished, Mr. [Lewis L.] Strauss, who was at that time the chairman of the Atomic 147 Energy Commission, he came out because they were friends. And he told Mr. Hertz that [it was] the first shelter [laughing] which makes sense, you know. So he engaged Edward Teller. Now Teller is an atomic scientist, you know, who was called "the father of the hydrogen bomb." [laughs] LASKEY: Something that he didn't like too much. LASZLO: So he [was] engaged to check over before he [Hertz] pays me my fee, that everything is all right, see this is really, really, a bomb shelter. It was [inaudible] interest [ing] but every person who worked on this job lost money: I lost money, the contractor lost money, whoever was involved, because it was unknown, you know. Every little item, we had to go to the city hall to get a special permit. It was [a] complicated job, with a generator and ventilation; many thing [s], many thing [s]. And today I don't know how I was able to do that. LASKEY: Well, that's what I was going to ask you about — LASZLO: I don't know [how]. LASKEY: — to talk about. It sounds so totally different from anything else that you did, and I'm just really curi- ous about material selection, and depth, and lighting, and — LASZLO: This was the reason he came to me, because he felt that I am going to find out about everything. So I had to 148 find out. Every little item was a new thing. We ordered sixteen feet Armco [steel pipe] ceiling, they're quarter inch of thick and eight foot in — 149 TAPE NUMBER: V, SIDE ONE JANUARY 18, 198 5 LASKEY: Mr. LSszl6, the last time we were talking, we started talking about the bomb shelter that you designed. And since that was such a unique thing, I thought we should start over again and start talking about that from the beginning . LASZLO: Yes. Somebody, or a magazine, approached me to design a future home or city or village or development, which I did ["Atomville , " 1950]. I believe, I don't know exactly, but I believe, it appeared in Popular Mechanic [s]. LASKEY: Popular Mechanics? LASZLO: I believe so, I don't know; it was so many years ago. And since I did the remodeling [and] furnishing [of the house on Shoup Avenue] for Mr. [John Daniel] Hertz, somehow it came up, the idea — [microphone adjusted] Somehow it came up, the idea that he wanted to build a bomb shelter. So I asked him, "Mr. Hertz, in your age" — he was seventy — "how come that you want to build a bomb shelter to save your life?" So he told me — he had a deep voice — he told me, "Mr. LSszl6, when you are in my age, every day is very important." [laughter] So he gave me the job to design it, which I did. And it was a complicated thing because it wasn't any precedent, you know, [to] show you something, to explain it better, a little bit. [looks 150 through papers] I don't have here the — LASKEY: Oh my goodness. LASZLO: Basically it was very — LASKEY: These were the mock-ups — ? LASZLO: This was [the] original idea, you know, out of which I developed the bomb shelter. But it was a compli- cated project, which today it would cost at least a million dollar [s], at least. But at the time, I didn't know, and the contractor didn't know, and the subcontractor didn't know [what it] was all about. So we all lost money on this job . LASKEY: V'Jhere did you start to research the information? LASZLO: Mr. Hertz had a connection to the air force, and there was a foundation in Albuquerque [New Mexico] called [the] Lovelace Foundation, where apparently they were playing around [with] how to protect or how to save people in case it comes, an atomic attack. They had two men who worked on it, partly: Major [Robert] Crawford, who died in the meantime, and Mr. [James] Clark, who I believe invented the silicon idea. LASKEY: Oh, really? LASZLO: Yeah, because one evening both were in our house for dinner and he showed me a little thing. He said, "Paul, it cost me seven cents; I invented it. And sell it, for sale, seven hundred dollar[s]." And so someone came 151 back, you know, I believe, he had to do with this invention. So, anyhow — LASKEY: This is the early fifties that we're talking about, right? About 1953? LASZLO: 'Fifty-three, I would say. And, so Mr. Hertz, with his connection to the air force, and to Mr. [Lewis L.] Strauss, who was chairman of the Atomic Energy Commis- sion. These two men were assigned to me to help me, and explained how it works. And Mr. Crawford was at that time already in Pasadena, in the air force office; I don't know how. So we met and apparently he had experience in atomic testing. And so he explained it to me, was [talking] all about it, you know: how the danger is mostly not only the bomb, but the pressure. Which means, of course, if the bomb hits your house, [it's] gone. But if the bomb hits Los Angeles [and] you are in Woodland Hills, where he was, then of course the pressure is — Tremendous amount of pressure. LASKEY: That's from the winds, the fallout from the winds? LASZLO: Yeah, air pressure. So he helps me with this idea. And then you buy it and later find out what's all about it in approaching people and engineers. And finally, I put it together. We used tremendous arm[or], called [galvanized] steel pipe. The diameter, I don't know, twenty feet long, or more, twenty-four feet long, you 152 know. And digging the ditches fourteen feet below the roof level. It was a very complicated job. And looking back, as I told you before, I don't know how I was able to do the job, you know. But I did, and it worked with all the problems. All the problems with so many things, you know: elevator, staircase, and generator, and battery; many things were new. I don't believe, except in Washing- ton for the president, any individual would do such a job, you know, because it cost too much. LASKEY: Well, did you do the engineering on it? Did you figure out the widths of the metals and the — ? LASZLO: Oh no, I had an engineer, oh, yeah, who calculated the stress of this — All ventilation and how to clean the air, and communication with the outside world; many things, you know. LASKEY: Well, that's an interesting question. What would they do for ventilation, because obviously you couldn't use the air, because the air would be polluted from — LASZLO: No, it is the same [as] air conditioning, you know. It is filtered, and filtered, refiltered. LASKEY: Just refilter the air, that's all. You don't need a fresh supply. LASZLO: Yeah, refilter. Yes, you know. We had two geiger counter [s] built in; many thing [s]. Frankly, I cannot even remember it anymore, but we had the details — I don't even know. 153 LASKEY: Well, there was — I was reading something about the stairway, the entrances. Either you had to disguise the entrances, or there was a [inaudible] entrance — LASZLO: No, it was — He owned, when I started, he owned 118 acres on Shoup Avenue, which is in Woodland Hills. And so it was about, I would say, twenty yards away from the house where it started, the concrete structure, you know. About so high the concrete came up, I believe say so — LASKEY: About four feet? LASZLO: The pressure, wind go over it, big circle. [laughs] And of course he or she [Mrs. Hertz, n§e Frances Kesner] couldn't walk down the spiral staircase. LASKEY: There was a spiral staircase that led from the ground down into to the building, yeah. LASZLO: In steel, you know. Went down. LASKEY: Why was it spiral? Was there a reason? Was there an engineering reason for that, or was it a space reason? LASZLO: Now, of course, we wanted to reduce the shelter to a minimum size, you know, which means a spiral staircase; underneath it, only three feet [of floor space] . But a staircase would be, you know, [larger]. And then we have here the staircase, and here was an elevator. LASKEY: Now, the elevator came from the ground level? LASZLO: Yeah. LASKEY: So there was an elevator and the staircase, both. 154 for getting down into the shelter. LASZLO: Yeah, yeah. LASKEY: That's amazing. LASZLO: And it was designed for fourteen people, which means his help and his — And food storage, many things; and beds and bathrooms. LASKEY: Well, how big was it? How big was the interior of the shelter? LASZLO: It was, the height inside, was like here, you know, with a different — LASKEY: Eight feet. LASZLO: — different, but it was a cylinder, which means in the center it was as high as a cylinder. Here were the beds, you know, built in. Like a big — [inaudible; laugh- ing] Like a submarine, really. LASKEY: Were there fourteen beds down there? I mean, fourteen cots, or — I mean, was it — You said it held fourteen, so could it actually sleep fourteen people? LASZLO: Yeah. Yes, yes. LASKEY: And what did they do about food storage? Did they have dried food put in? What would they have done about food and water, for example, had there been an atomic attack? LASZLO: Well, the idea was to supply for three weeks all food, which was in the atomic shelter, you know. Food, like in a pantry. 155 LASKEY: Like canned foods, and things like that. Bottled water — LASZLO: Everything. And water, and — LASKEY: Well, didn't you arouse a lot of attention when you were building this? LASZLO: Oh, he didn't — LASKEY: No? LASZLO: Oh, he would not even permit me to take photos. Oh, it was how secret. I explain it to you that at the end of the project he asked me to make a secret exit, and engage laborer [s] from out of town so nobody should know about it. Now, since you mentioned, the escape hatch was, again, a cylinder. And we provided something to pull the people out, because he could not, she couldn't crawl out. It was pretty steep; not [inaudible] but pretty steep cylinder, you know. LASKEY: Yeah. LASZLO: V'Jhich means a person had to crawl. So we made an arrangement where we were able to initiate a motor which pulls out a seat, pulls up a seat, you know. Because he could not have a — He wasn't an active sportsman, you know. So, I can't recall all the elements which went into it because it was many years ago, you know. So this was Mr. Hertz's bomb shelter. LASKEY: It's amazing. Did the government have to OK any 156 of this, or was it just a private — ? LASZLO: The city building department. This was always a problem, because every item was no precedent. LASKEY: Did you have difficulty with the building department, then, getting permits that you needed? LASZLO: Yes. It took time, because they didn't know either: how to heat, how to filter, how to generate. We had connected with city lights and power. And then we had a generator, and the generator had to be [a] hundred yard[s] away from the shelter. I don't know why; I'll tell you more about that. So [the] city insisted a hundred yard[s] away from the shelter. And then, if both the city power and the generator fails, then we have a battery automatically to switch over. LASKEY: Oh, I see. So you had three systems, that were three generating systems that he could have used. LASZLO: Yeah. I believe it is still there. At that time, I cannot — He gave the whole property to a school. What school, I don't know. LASKEY: It would be interesting to find out if it's ever used. [It was bought from the Hertz family in 1957 and was converted into the Pinecrest Ranch School, 5975 Shoup Avenue. --Ed.] [tape recorder turned off] You haven't been back to find out if it's still there or if it's used, or what the school might use it for? 157 LASZLO: No, no. We had some differences with old man Hertz. LASKEY: Oh? [interruption; tape recorder turned off] LASZLO: His secretary, Mr. Victor Herman was the name, awfully nice person, he got jealous that Mr. Hertz asked me for [advice about] all his problems; I don't know why, you know. So, we did — We moved, I believe, his stables. Then he put up, he gave up his horses and he sold [a] hundred acres to a builder and retained eighteen acres, including the house and bomb shelter. We moved a big stable, oh, I don't know, half a mile away, in his property. And with paved, like a street, from the house to the stables; asphalt. And this Victor Herman got jealous of me, even [though] I didn't have anything to do with it. So he said to Mr. Hertz that while we were building the bomb shelter, I did remodeling in my [own] house, and that [was] the reason it was delayed [in] completion this month — LASKEY: Why would he do that? LASZLO: — which caused him a disturbance. So when my partner presented his bill, he wanted to have, for this discomfort, a reduced bill. Unfortunately, my partner is the same. "OK, Mr. Hertz," he said, "no, we can't afford it." He [Hertz] called up his lawyers in Chicago to come 158 out and sue me for his discomfort that [laughing] the bomb shelter wasn't — LASKEY: That's absurd. LASZLO: And he engaged too, here, a local lawyer, Ed Lasker — a famous name from Chicago, but he practiced here. Lasker, Ed Lasker. And he told us, "You know, it is foolish but the old man is really insisting. He told us that he goes to the Supreme Court, you know." You know, the difference was — LASKEY: [laughs] The Supreme Court? LASZLO: He wanted a thousand dollar discount on — LASKEY: How much did he spend on lawyers' fees trying to get this thousand dollars discount? LASZLO: That is something else. He came out from Chicago, a lawyer. And a lawyer here. So finally we settled. I mean, I lost. LASKEY: Oh, that's too bad. LASZLO: You know, it was — [laughs] And the interesting thing is that he moved out from this house and he bought a condominium on Wilshire Boulevard, a penthouse. And he built his own oval swimming pools in the penthouse. LASKEY: Really? LASZLO: Yes. LASKEY: Down on V^Jilshire? LASZLO: Yeah, Wilshire Boulevard. He had all the money. 159 you know, I mean. And he engaged somebody, an architect, and all the time he is telling the architect, "Mr. Laszlfi would do this — " [laughter] Anyhow, I don't have any grudge. I never had; I mean, this guy — [laughs] He died in the meantime, she died, and his daughter died, and so — But I am, only, alive. [laughs] LASKEY: And the bomb shelter is probably still there itself. [laughing] LASZLO: The bomb shelter, I am sure, is still there. Try to find out which school got it. LASKEY: Where is it? What's the street? LASZLO: Shoup Avenue. LASKEY: Shoup Avenue in Woodland Hills. LASZLO: In Woodland Hills. Now, I believe it was the second block, or the third, from Ventura Boulevard. LASKEY: Well, you said that the commission for the bomb shelter grew out of a program that you had done for Popular Mechanics. And you had those boards that you showed me that were your Atomville project, which is fascinating. It's sort of the city of tomorrow. How did you come — ? First of all, can you describe it. What happened here — LASZLO: Of course, I believe that many of the architects are thinking of a project, "the ideal city," and so which means in my mind, I had it already fifty years ago, you know. 160 LASKEY: Really? LASZLO: Yes. You know: how to design a city, you know, which would be ideal. Later on, I believe twenty years ago, somebody built a city, an ideal city. I believe that Nelson Rockefeller financed it. LASKEY: Oh, Rockefeller Center, or — LASZLO: If you ask [David] Gebhard, he would remember the name. Anyhow, many architects were — LASKEY: Well, the ideal city, through history — LASZLO: Yeah, how to do that — LASKEY: Somebody is always attempting to build or design the ideal city. LASZLO: Then, of course, and came the atomic bomb, which created new problems. And then came the amount of cars which are clogging the — You know. LASKEY: Oh, yeah. LASZLO: So, you are thinking how would it be possible, because more and more people are flying today private planes. I don't know how many millions they have, private planes. So that was the idea. Why don't we build the houses underground, and then use the roof as a landing — VJhich means this would be a — LASKEY: Sort of a curved — LASZLO: — the roof, you know. And here, again, this concrete protection against the pressure of wind. Here 161 would be the landing, you know; a continuous — LASKEY: And then all of the house — This would be underground? LASZLO: Yeah. LASKEY: And this is the ground level here. And then this is concrete? LASZLO: Yes, this is — LASKEY: Concrete sort of curved surface that rises — LASZLO: So many things. Of course, it wasn't engineered, but it was an idea. And it was interesting to work on it. Even we made a model of it. We worked on it for months, the model. [laughs] But it was interesting. LASKEY: Where's the model? Do you still have it? LASZLO: I don't know, no. LASKEY: That's too bad. You did that, then, really, because of an interest, your own, basically your own personal interest in — ? LASZLO: Somebody, either [a] writer or a magazine ap- proached me. So this gave me the impetus to start again, because it was interesting. But it was — LASKEY: Nothing was ever picked up from it. It still looks like a good idea. I mean, to eliminate cars would be~ LASZLO: I don't know. LASKEY: — a definite benefit to humanity. 162 LASZLO: Because I believe each of us contribute something/ you know. Even a little detail would help. If so many people are working, I'm sure, on the same idea, because the problem is here. Now, if you try to go on Wilshire Boulevard [laughing] in Westwood, then you realize — So anyhow, he died, she died. And his daughter died too. I designed the house in, let me think; [it] was '53. LASKEY: Fifty-three. LASZLO: I believe it was '53. LASKEY: V7ell, I noticed in some of the plans and designs that you did for other projects, that the helicopter figured prominently in it. In fact, I think you had one project that you designed for a helicopter: a means of getting people to the airport ["PL-47" helicopter terminal project, 1945] . LASZLO: Oh, yes. It was — I had an idea to, which is being done, I mean, today. Each big building downtown has a pad, you know, for helicopters. Each building has; here and in New York and in San Francisco. And so I figured that finally — I took, in San Francisco, several times, a helicopter from town to airport. LASKEY: Oh, really? LASZLO: Oh, sure. And we were in Italy, in Capri. And I didn't wanted to go again through the misery of a boat from Naples to Capri and Capri back to Naples. So we took a 163 helicopter and in a few minutes we were at that airport in Naples. LASKEY: But I think also in the fifties there was a feeling that the helicopter would be much more of a personal machine than it's become, don't you think? I mean, that it was just sort of assumed that we would have helicopters in much the same way that we have cars. LASZLO: Well, they have today big helicopters. We have fifty, hundred people [passengers] , you know. The army has big machines. So this is the problem. I believe that, finally, when it comes to a point when it is impossible to drive — LASKEY: Well, it's almost reaching that point in some places in Los Angeles. LASZLO: You know. LASKEY: It gets a little bit worse all the time, so I'd be really curious to know how we do solve it, and if that could possibly be an answer. LASZLO: No. The politic — They are fooling around, for how many years, to build a subway. And they just won't do it, you know. Most amazing that in, like in Germany, Munich built a subway system for the Olympic games. And Stuttgart, as well as others, built a subway system. Why couldn't we [laughing] get here a subway system? It's all excuses, you know. 164 LASKEY: Well, Los Angeles, for whatever reason, is resistant to a transit system, and, you know, something will happen because traffic will stop at some point. LASZLO: Yes. LASKEY: And when the traffic stops, then what do we do? LASZLO: Yes. So I believe when it comes to a point where you can't move, [laughing] then we are going to have — LASKEY: [laughing] Then we are going to have a [inaudi- ble], or a subway, or whatever. LASZLO: Yeah. LASKEY: But while we're on that subject, we've talked somewhat about your furniture design, the architecture. What about your position as an industrial designer? How does that fit into your scheme? LASZLO: Of course, I designed several items, even in Europe. And here it didn't develop in my life to become an important designer for industry. LASKEY: Well, how would you define "industrial de- signer"? Because, I think that's a fairly new term. LASZLO: Yes. Actually, what it is: you design a chair, you design a chair. Then you have to figure how to build it. So this is the job for an industrial designer. Or you design an automobile, which I did — at least half of it I designed: [the superchargers, carrosserie and color scheme] . 165 LASKEY: Really? An automobile? LASZLO: Yes, a Mercedes [Benz] . And then you have to figure out — Then you have a beautiful picture, you know, of what a person visualizes how it should be. Then you to solve it, how to build it. So this is the definition of an industrial designer, who is able to engineer it, has a design which he designed. Of course, a big — Henry Drey- fuss, who died in the meantime; he killed himself. He and his wife together killed theraself. And Raymond Loewy, who is now not working, and [Walter Dorwin] Teague, and all these, had big offices because they had big clients. They went in different direction [s] too. They designed stores and furniture and automobiles and trucks and everything. But they had two hundred people — LASKEY: Two hundred people? That's large; a large firm. LASZLO: — in that office. Which means they had engineers and this engineer and this. Which means the person, like Loewy, you know — Well, don't quote me — LASKEY: No, I'm just writing down Raymond Loewy ' s name for the spelling. LASZLO: He could not design anymore because he was so busy getting jobs. The phone calls — If you have two hundred people, or more, you have a payroll, which means you need jobs, jobs, jobs, jobs, jobs. I didn't want to be big, you know. I decided I want to [go] in a different direction finally. 166 You ask me, too, how come that I design stores more, [and] gave up designing homes. The simple reason was I wanted to do my own work, which means I didn't want to hire a designer who designs, and I put my name on it, you know. I wanted to design everything. And if you do, then of course you don't have the time to go out and solicit work, you know, which a big business has to. And so I was happy what I did with the small office. LASKEY: Now, was your office always on Rodeo Drive? LASZLO: No. LASKEY: I mean, after you got settled on Rodeo; I know you had one before you were on Rodeo. But once you moved into that office, was that your main — Did you stay there until you retired? Or did you move — ? [people talking in back- ground] LASZLO: [Referring to voices] I don't dare to get up, to close the door. [door closes] LASKEY: That's OK. LASZLO: I was first in [the] Fox VJilshire Building [8442 Wilshire Boulevard, Beverly Hills]. I had a beautiful office. LASKEY: That was the one where you ripped out the partition? LASZLO: Then we moved to where Regina movie [theater] was [8556 Wilshire Boulevard], one or two blocks west from La 167 Cienega [Boulevard] . And then we moved to ray house, which had a whole floor [of] office space. LASKEY: Now, is this your house in Brentwood or your — LASZLO: No. LASKEY: — house in Beverly Hills? This was the second house. LASZLO: Beverly Hills. And then I moved to Rodeo Drive. I was there at least twenty years until a client of mine, a Mr. [S. Jon] Kreedman, came and said, "Paul, I am build- ing — " Now, he wanted to build a hotel, and all the plans were already finished, and all the contracts are already signed. When he abandoned the project, instead of building [a hotel, he built an] office building on Camden [Drive] and Wilshire, almost opposite of Saks Fifth Avenue, where a big bank is and has this circular "appendix" [vault] on Wilshire Boulevard. LASKEY: OK, I know where Camden and VJilshire is. LASZLO: And so he built an office building instead of hotel. And I, since I designed his offices, he said, "Paul, come over and in the building make your office there." So, you know how friends are. [laughter] [I said,] "All right." LASKEY: "OK." [laughs] LASZLO: So then I moved to 9601 Wilshire. That was the address, but actually entrance was on Camden Drive, but the 168 address was Wilshire. There I was, I don't know, ten years, or twelve years. LASKEY: What was it like moving out of your Rodeo office after all that time? Wasn't it hard to leave your office on Rodeo? LASZLO: No, wasn't hard. LASKEY: It wasn't hard? LASZLO: No. It wasn't hard. [laughter] No, wasn't hard. You know. I was always — I don't want to say adventurous— but it wasn't hard to leave Hungary, it wasn't hard to leave Vienna, it wasn't hard to leave Germany, and it wasn't hard to leave Rodeo Drive. [laughter] LASKEY: Maybe you're just pragmatic. It makes sense to LASZLO: So I moved there, and we had a good time there. And then finally, in '75 or '74, we moved, against my better judgment, to San Vicente [Boulevard]. A new building, ugly building, on Bundy and — LASKEY: Bundy and San Vicente. LASZLO: San — No, it was on more Barrington [10777 San Vicente Boulevard] . LASKEY: Barrington, yeah, that circle of buildings that chops — LASZLO: And then we took in a partner who worked for us for sixteen years. 169 LASKEY: Now, this was — V-Jhen did you move to San Vicente? LASZLO: I believe '7. 170 TAPE NUMBER: V, SIDE TWO JANUARY 18, 1985 LASKEY: So you were on Rodeo, then, from approximately the mid forties into the sixties. LASZLO: No, no. I believe, from '40, because I started to remodel it '39, so we moved in '40 until, I believe, '62, or so. LASKEY: And then you moved to San Vicente, and — LASZLO: No. LASKEY: I mean to Wilshire — LASZLO: Wilshire. LASKEY: — and then to San Vicente. LASZLO: Yeah, yeah, yeah. LASKEY: OK. I just thought we'd get the chronology straight. So you had a partner. LASZLO: Yeah, we took in a partner [James H. Duthie] who worked for us, before, sixteen years. And my other part- ner, Fritz, he told me, "Let's give him a partnership; he worked for us for sixteen years." I wasn't in favor of it. But I said, "All right." And it didn't work out. LASKEY: It didn't work out. LASZLO: As soon as he became a partner, he behaved like a partner. And it just didn't work out. And at that time we were already in [San] Vicente, and Fritz, my old partner, 171 lived here in this building called [The] Penthouse, [overlooking] the ocean. LASKEY: Oh, OK. LASZLO: And I wanted to sell ray house. So, it was — Finally, we gave the office for the employees. And I moved over here. I worked here for a few years. LASKEY: You did your work here? And then the office was sort of, the business was run at San Vicente? Is that--? LASZLO: We gave, Fritz Eden and myself, gave the office for our employees, which included our third partner. LASKEY: That was very nice. LASZLO: And two more men who worked for us; very nice people. But these three couldn't get along. So after a few months, each went into a different direction. LASKEY: And then what did you do? You were still working, right? LASZLO: Yeah, here [at home] . LASKEY: You work out of — LASZLO: It was different, you know. It was a drafting room. I did a few jobs from here. Big jobs; not big jobs like a big building, but remodeling. And I went two years ago--I forget now-- [and then decided that] I don't want after [all] to do this, you know, work here without help. So, I eliminated everything and paneled the walls — LASKEY: Oh, you did this? You had the paneling done? 172 LASZLO: Yeah. Well, sure. LASKEY: It's a beautiful room. LASZLO: Sure. And it's difficult to be here and to work [for] clients in Beverly Hills or downtown. You know, long distance. LASKEY: Yes. LASZLO: As you know, the traffic and parking [are difficult] , so I gave up, or the clients gave me up. [laughter] But it worked out all right, you know. After all, I was working sixty years. [laughs] LASKEY: Sixty years. LASZLO: But I enjoyed every minute, every office. Should I give you fresh coffee? LASKEY: Oh, no, this is just fine. I guess this would be a good time to ask you. We sort of talked about it be- fore. But talking about your offices, the changes that you saw in Los Angeles or in Beverly Hills over those very critical years must have been really amazing. Just in the immediate surroundings of Beverly Hills where you were, to watch the city grow. LASZLO: I didn't foresee that Rodeo Drive will have such a change. Because if I were to have foreseen, I wouldn't have moved. [laughter] LASKEY: See? LASZLO: Most amazing how in a few years, everything 173 changed; every building was changed. Gucci came in, and Hermes came in, and all the French furs came in. LASKEY: But even when you, before Gucci and before those shops came in, Rodeo Drive was always considered to be quite an elegant street, wasn't it? From, almost, from the beginning. LASZLO: When I moved in there were, eighty percent were residences, bungalows. LASKEY: On Rodeo Drive? LASZLO: Did you know that? LASKEY: No, I didn't know that. LASZLO: Sure, bungalows. Bungalows. [laughs] People — LASKEY: That's amazing. LASZLO: As a matter of fact, when I was on [Rodeo] , one other building, a bungalow, was a Hungarian restaurant: Mama Weiss 's Hungarian — [laughter] LASKEY: That's wonderful. Mama Weiss on Rodeo Drive! LASZLO: Yes, on Rodeo Drive. Where you got, for fifty cents, a luncheon, and for sixty cents or so, the dinner and Mama Weiss was singing. [laughter] LASKEY: Oh, that's wonderful. That's wonderful. LASZLO: Yes. LASKEY: Did you and she talk a lot, you know, about Hungary, or, you know — ? It must have been kind of pleasant company, wasn't it? 174 LASZLO: No, actually I was not interested. LASKEY: Oh. LASZLO: But the first few months, or half a year — espe- cially when you don't speak the language — automatically you seek comfort in talking to people who are talking German or Hungarian. But after the six months, I made up my mind: no more German, no more Hungarian; learn English. l-Thich I did — to a certain degree. And I was not too fond of Hungarian, so — LASKEY: Or Mama Weiss. LASKEY: — or German, you know. And we don't have too many German friends. We have a few clients who were in the movie industry, but we don't seek European people, you know. LASKEY: VJell, you've been here for almost fifty years. So this has got to be more home to you — LASZLO: Oh, sure. LASKEY: — than Germany. LASZLO: Oh, sure. This is my — LASKEY: Or certainly more than Hungary, which was LASZLO: Oh, sure; this is my home. And we had worked — Half a year ago, there was advertised that a famous Hungarian gypsy music, a band, comes over for a week to, I believe, Bonaventure Hotel, or — no, Hyatt House, Hyatt House. Hyatt House, where the Broadway [department store] is downtown. 175 LASKEY: Yeah, Hyatt Regency. LASZLO: So we went down, and somehow — And he played. He plays excellent, but his whole behavior — I felt I don't want to be Hungarian. [laughter] LASKEY: VJell, he probably had to do that partly because he figured people expect, you know, gypsy violinists — LASZLO: Anyhow, but anyhow, that's my home. And I hope I am hundred percent American. My wife was born in Los Angeles, our son [Peter Paul Laszl6] was born in Los Angeles. LASKEY: Well, you have seen — you and your family — have, you know, seen practically a revolution take place in the city since you've lived here. LASZLO: Yes, yes. LASKEY: Beverly Hills must not have been — it couldn't have been very populated, when you moved here. LASZLO: Oh, no. As I told you, they were [laughing] all bungalows. Opposite of my studio was a restaurant called Pepino. It was Italian style. Then it was a store, Francis Orr Stationery. And a movie actress, who had children['s] fashion. Bungalows, bungalows. And Wilshire Boulevard was all fields, no buildings. It started after the war, which is now forty years [ago] . LASKEY: Amazing. Well, you had mentioned, when you were talking about Mr. Hertz and the bomb shelter, you mentioned 176 the problems in getting permits and whatever. Did you, all the time that you were an architect, when you were building houses, and eventually when you built the stores and the complexes that you did, did you have much trouble with building commissions, generally? LASZLO: No, no, I didn't. I had once a problem with — in '38 — with a union, which means I didn't know — And the contractor who I took, he wasn't union. So he started to build for me, and suddenly, the union came and said, "Oh, no. You can't build." So, the owner had to pay a few percent more, and the contractor had to take union labor. LASKEY: Really? LASZLO: It is the same today, still, you know. LASKEY: I didn't think that the unions were that strong. LASZLO: V^ell, they would stop — I mean, they would say that, well, "We don't let in that union" — a profession like a plumber, or a painter, or whoever it is. Oh, sure, because since that time all my contracts were saying, "Has to be union labor." But at that time I didn't know. [laughs] LASKEY: You didn't know. Of the houses that you built, were there any that were your favorites? Do you have some that you like best? LASZLO: It's difficult to say which one, because each has — Like my [Brentwood] house was, of course, my 177 favorite. And [the] Harrison house was a good house, really, because it was a challenge, you know. Because if you find a lot which is all flat, no trees, then it has a cinch. But if you find, [laughing] it goes [like this] inside, that's interesting. And on buildings, I believe, my best building, was Goldwater [ ' s ] in Scottsdale. LASKEY: I was just thinking of your residences, your houses, specifically. LASZLO: I believe these two, if — I can't, of course, recall all the homes, you know, offhand. It's difficult. But I believe this: my house and [the] Harrison house were my favorite home[s]. LASKEY: And then talking about your buildings, how — When did you start building buildings? There was the McCulloch Oil. Was there significant buildings before that? LASZLO: What buildings? LASKEY: You did mostly houses when you first came here, I think. LASZLO: Yeah. LASKEY: And then you, I know, the McCulloch Oil Building [showrooms, Century Boulevard, Los Angeles, c. 1950] jumps out as one of the major offices that you did. And then, later, you started doing major shopping centers like Hall's and the Goldwater store. And was this a gradual change? LASZLO: I didn't do major shopping centers, you know. 178 Hall's was [a] retail area [of] which I was in charge. I did [the Hudspeth Center shopping mall; unbuilt project] for Mr. [John] Hudspeth in Prineville, Oregon [c. 1952]. [laughs] LASKEY: Oh, yes. LASZLO: I told you the story already, so I don't want to repeat it. Goldwater was a nice project. LASKEY: What did you do for Goldwater? LASZLO: I designed the whole complex [Fashion Square, 1961-62] . LASKEY: This was in Scottsdale, Arizona. LASZLO: Scottsdale, yes. LASKEY: VJhen was this, in 'Seventy — ? LASZLO: Goldwater store and [Hunt's] restaurant and several mall stores. You know, a whole thing. And it worked out all right, you know. But later on they build it three stories high, which means the flair is gone. LASKEY: Since they added to it. LASZLO: You know, you design something for a one-story, important building, and then they are going to put [more stories on it] . LASKEY: VJell, what was it particularly that you liked about the Goldwater project? LASZLO: In which sense? LASKEY: You've said that it was one of your favorite projects — 179 LASZLO: Yeah, yeah. LASKEY: — and I wondered what made it your favorite? LASZLO: What made it — I believe I told you the story before that one day a man came in, he looked like David [Davey] Crockett. And he came in and said, "I have here three thousands dollar[s]. If you are willing to take a chance to make me a design for a store, a real important store, here it is, the money." LASKEY: Now, when was this? Approximately? LASZLO: I believe '59. LASKEY: 'Fifty-nine. How much was three thousand dollars? Was that a sizable amount of money, or was that not very much money in '59? I can't remember. LASZLO: To me, it was below my fee, but it was nice. You know, because the challenge was interesting. He had a property in Scottsdale. So I designed the plan, not in detail, but the layout, and the front, the fronts. So we went over to see Goldwater's. They liked it, but they didn't like the property which the man had because he had a long lease with a pancake house on their property, so Mr. Goldwater didn't want. So I forgot it. After two years or so, somebody calls up from Phoenix that Mr. Goldwater would like to see me. LASKEY: Now, is this the senator, or is this his family? Was it the senator? Senator [Barry] Goldwater that you saw, or was it his family? 180 LASZLO: Bob. [Robert Williams Goldwater] LASKEY: Bob? Is that a brother? LASZLO: Bob Goldwater. Which means [the] senator wasn't involved with the store; Bob was. So I came over — he's a very nice person — and he had three person [s] in charge of the stores; one is still there. They liked the design and everything. But no project because he didn't want a pan- cake house. So after two years somebody called me up and said, "Do you want to come over to see Mr. Goldwater?" So I went over, and they found a better location, and a bigger property. And, to make it short, they gave me the job. It was a big project. But they let me do many things, which means they had trust in me that, I don't know— When the job was finished, they honored me like a king, you know. They were so happy; and it was a beautiful store. But the property belonged to a man who lived almost close to my house. [laughs] * [Harry Lennart lived with his wife, Yvonne, a few blocks from us in Brentwood on Rockingham Drive. Actually, my wife met him first and became acquain- ted with him because she was always collecting funds from the neighbors for Red Cross and Community Chest and got to know people in our vicinity. Maxine gave Harry Lennart our * Mr. Laszl6 added the following bracketed section during his review of the transcript. 181 phone number, so he called me. And during the Goldwater job we got to be good friends for many years. He was an admirer of modern art and had an interesting collection of paintings and sculpture. He died a number of years ago.] LASKEY: Really? LASZLO: Mr. [Harry] Lennart, [inaudible] Helena [Drive]. A very nice person, too. So, he owned the property, and he financed the — He gave the money to the Goldwater [s] , I don't know: five million, six million, eight million dollar[s]. And he says, "Is that what I want to spend?" He could spend more. Then of course, you — "[It's] up to you." And we finished up the job. [There] was a big opening, excellent business. Then they wanted to build a restaurant adjacent to the store. So I designed it, too. LASKEY: You designed the restaurant. What style was it? Could you describe it? What it looked like? LASZLO: Modern, but very simple, very simple. But elegant. It looked excellent, really. I was pleased, and all the people were pleased, including the senator and his wife. Very nice sort of people, you know; really a fine gentleman. And then because, I believe, because of my work, they were able to sell the stores to Robinson's. Which, in turn, is owned by a firm called Associated Dry Goods . LASKEY: I didn't know that. 182 LASZLO: And Goldwater has now about six, eight branches all over. LASKEY: But it doesn't belong to the family anymore. LASZLO: No, they sold it. Unfortunately, because the shares went down. [laughs] LASKEY: Oh, really? Well, all of us who've been to Arizona know — And was it the new firm that made the decision, then, to add on to, to add the new floors onto the structure that you did? LASZLO: Oh yes, because they needed more space. And I wasn't as motivat[ed] to help here. But more space, you know. Because good business and Scottsdale developed, you know, just like Palm Springs. It is a big town. So Scottsdale [had] tremendous development, more people. Which means it needed a bigger store. But, I wasn't LASKEY: Well, and you weren't happy with the design. LASZLO: No — LASKEY: Or it spoiled your design. LASZLO: No, I did not feel like "I am hurt." Because they have to do it. LASKEY: Well, I have asked you this, but not when we were on tape, about the idea of having proprietary feelings about the buildings that you design, how you feel about them once you turn them over to the people that you design them for. Do you still think of them as your buildings? 183 LASZLO: No. Of course, you can't make it a contract that you can't change it, you know. I mean, just like my house, they changed it. LASKEY: The person who bought your house? LASZLO: That's his, his property. It's different with a stage play or a movie, where you retain the control, but in a building, no. LASKEY: But even emotionally, you don't feel any attachment — ? LASZLO: No, no. I don't feel like that. Fortunately. LASKEY: Well, I think, particularly in Los Angeles, where things tend to get changed very quickly, that it could be very difficult if you had tried to maintain some control. LASZLO: You know, the whole system here is constant change. Even a tax rise, you know, the commercial building which depreciate [s] each year, so which after ten or fifteen years, the building is depreciated. That I know about; I don't know about the home [depreciation laws]. But basically, I don't want to— At least it doesn't hurt me. But I don't go back to look at it. [laughter] I can't change it, so — LASKEY: Well, what about the Hall's project? I know that that was another project that was quite dear to your heart. LASZLO: Oh, yes, it was. It was, really. I was fortunate. I was fortunate getting these jobs from 184 Hallmark. Because here, too, were just outstanding people: great brain [s], and [laughing] great amount of money too. And it worked out because at the end I did four stores for them. Four stores for them. In Kansas City. LASKEY: They were all in Kansas City? That's what I was going to ask you. Were they in Kansas City or were they in various places? LASZLO: In various places [in Kansas City] . The first was a shopping district, but better — as we have it here. In a park [Hall's Department Store, Country Club Plaza, Kansas City, Missouri, 1949-65]. And the owner [Jesse Clyde Nichols, Jr.] of big properties — I don't know how many hundreds of acres — controlled the whole acreage. And he [Nichols] wanted in the best location, center of the whole thing, a major tenant. Which means people who have the money and [would] do a good job. So Mr. Hall got inter- ested. And after three months of looking — I told you the story before — all over for a designer. Finally, to make it short — LASKEY: No, that's just the whole story. It's fine. LASZLO: — I got the job. It was maybe a fluke or what. But they were in New York, Chicago, I believe, London, to find a designer, you know, to design this major building. And finally, that could not find one, at least not which pleased Mr. Hall. They were here because he had a house in 185 Malibu. And so he came out here, with his artistic direc- tor, who was a lady — a very nice lady — and the president of the store, Mr. Kaiser. They were here and sent Jeanette Lee over to, believe, the Broadway [department store] . And Jack. Kaiser went to Bullock's, and they asked them, "Who is the best designer in town who you can recommend for an important job?" And both Broadway people and Bullock's mentioned my name. And in the meantime Mr. Hall got a call from his son in Kansas City and said, "Well, I heard the name — about Mr. LSszl6." [laughs] LASKEY: They saw a trend. LASZLO: All three [laughing] came together for luncheon in the [Brown] Derby — at that time, Beverly Hills. And each [laughing] said, "Mr. LSszl6." So they called me up. They came over: Mr. Hall, Jeanette Lee, Jack Kaiser. And Mr. Hall told me, "I don't believe you are the man. Too much color; I want everything white." So he says, "I will call you again. " After a few days he calls me up again — Mr. Hall, who's very [laughing] smart — he says, "Mr. Laszl6, I don't believe that you are the man. But why don't you come out for dinner Saturday and bring along your girlfriend." So we came out to Malibu, in his house. And I brought along some photos which were of my work. And again, he says before dinner, "No, too much color. Too colorful. Not for 186 me." So we had dinner with him and his wife, and Maxine and myself. And after dinner he says, "Why don't you come with me to Kansas City." So I told him, "That's fine, but Wednes- day." He said, "No; Monday morning, eight o'clock." [laughter] So I went over and [he] gave me the job to design the building and the store. And I started out with the building first. And when he saw my design, [he said,] "Just wonderful," just excited. * [My wife and I remember well the day we first went up to Mr. Hall's Malibu house for dinner. He met us at the door barefoot and wearing an Army-style jumpsuit in khaki color. I introduced Maxine to him and right off the bat he asked her if I had told her what kind of nut he really was! Maxine got the giggles, and from that moment on he always liked her. Mr. Hall had a terrific sweet tooth and loved good candy. He was always indulging himself, and others he liked, whenever he came across something tempt- ing. Many times he sent me home from Kansas City with candy for Maxine.] LASKEY: Now, as I recall from seeing the pictures, it wasn't all white. You did use some color. * Mr. Laszl6 added the following bracketed section during his review of the transcript. 187 LASZLO: And so he was all excited about the building. But unfortunately/ the owner, Mr. Nichols, who owned our prop- erty, he said, "No, [it] has to be Spanish." LASKEY: He didn't tell him that before? LASZLO: Maybe he told him, but Mr. Hall didn't believe that if he design [s] the store that Mr. Nichols can say no. So, finally, we made a compromise. Now retaining this Spanish feeling, but simplified. But [when] it came to the store interiors, he gave me a difficult time. LASKEY: Mr. Nichols did? LASZLO: No, Mr. Hall. LASKEY: Mr. Hall. LASZLO: He chewed me out. [laughs] I — LASKEY: For what reason? What were some of the things he didn't like? LASZLO: He showed me a book, a big book — I don't know, from Spain or from somewhere — and showed me a door. He says, "This would be a nice door for the store." So, foolish as I am, I told him, "Mr. Hall, you can't start to design a store with a door." Oh, boy! [laughter] He gave me a chewing out from two o'clock until five o'clock! LASKEY: Really? LASZLO: Boy, oh boy. [laughs] So after five o'clock, we went out because they were six, eight people in the office; executives. So I went out in the lobby, and after a few 188 minutes, Jack came out and said, "Come in. Mr. Hall wants to talk to you." So he apologized and said, you know, [laughing] "I got mad." LASKEY: He got really mad. LASZLO: Well, it was a good lesson, you know. A good lesson not to open up your mouth. [laughs] LASKEY: But it sounded like he was a little extreme, though, in his reaction. LASZLO: He was a man, you know, he had a great amount of knowledge and a great amount of brain and logic, you know. And he built up, after all, from nothing, this billion dollar business. So he felt, who is [laughing] Mr. Laszl6 to tell me how to design a store? But we got along fine. LASKEY: Even despite that? LASZLO: Yes. When it was finished, he was [saying,] "Very nice." And it was excellent — not only design wise, but business wise; made excellent business. And then came the flood. Took away the whole store. LASKEY: Really? LASZLO: Yeah. LASKEY: When was this? LASZLO: You ask me this. [laughing] I can't remember. A few years after I finished the job came the flood. LASKEY: Really? 189 LASZLO: Took away everything. I believe it was '74. LASKEY: Well, they just— But in the early seventies, approximately . LASZLO: Yeah, or before. And they waited a year, I don't know why. Because at that time I wasn't anymore in the picture. And, yes, and it was '75. And finally they rebuilt it, but a different way, you know, so to protect against flood. This was [the] first store, then I rede- signed the downtown store. Then, they were here [in the Country Club Plaza] with this store. It was an empty location here [adjacent]. They were afraid, you know, that somebody comes in and build a building, which he didn't like. So he [Hall] bought it, you know. And he bought a little firm called Swanson, small boutique. He bought the name, Swanson. VJe designed [the] Swanson store [1966- 67]. It was not too good, really. LASKEY: Oh, it wasn't too good. LASZLO: It was not too good. LASKEY: It wasn't — You didn't like it as well as you had your other store. LASZLO: No, you know, they hired a man in charge who wasn't really an expert in stores. And, you know, it is difficult to do a job unless you have the proper relation to the owner, which I didn't have with Swanson's new president. (He became a president for Swanson.) So, it 190 wasn't a good job. Then came the Crown Center [1972-73], which was a big development for a billion dollar [s] or more. And [it had] hotels, apartment houses, and office buildings; big projects, big project. 191 TAPE NUMBER: VI, SIDE ONE FEBRUARY 8, 198 5 LASKEY: Mr. Laszlfi, this week you had your eighty-fifth birthday — LASZLO: Yeah. LASKEY: — and I thought, perhaps, we could just start out by your talking about the party and the festivities. LASZLO: My son, Peter Paul — we are very devoted to each other — and his wife insisted to make a party at his new home, which is out in Brentwood. They arranged about thirty-six people, sit-down dinner. And with music and entertainment. But the way the thing was, Peter prepared the night before, five-by-five masonite, and he made hundreds of little holes and installed lighting which he said [was] for lasting [to an] eighty-fifth [year]. And it [the sign] was [laughing] out in the street! [laughs] LASKEY: How wonderful. How wonderful. LASZLO: And inside — I was sure moved, really — they took, out of the photo album, photos of me from little child- hood — all ray life, you know — and raade enlargement [s ] and put [them] in all the halls. [laughs] I can show you later the photo; I just got it. And it was wonderful. V-Je had a concert, and — LASKEY: There was live music? LASZLO: Yes, partly. They bought a piano, too. 192 [laughs] And it was a combination of classical music and light music and songs. We have friends who are profes- sional singers, and professional piano players, and violin players. We had a wonderful time. So, it was a very emotional affair. Of course, all the people are old friends of mine. Twenty, thirty, forty years, you know. So it was like a family affair. LASKEY: Were they mostly people who live in Los Angeles, or did a number of people come from other areas? LASZLO: My brother came from Canada, and some people came from Laguna Beach. But mostly from here, you know. LASKEY: Now your brother, have you seen him recently? Or is-- LASZLO: I saw him a few years ago, he and his wife. And they came down for a week, and it was very nice. It's difficult to tell you, because — a spirit which you can't explain. LASKEY: Right. LASZLO: Was wonderful, you know. A lot of kissing, [laughter] LASKEY: A lot of tears? LASZLO: Yes, and it was very nice. LASKEY: A sit-down dinner for thirty-six people took a lot of preparation on your daughter-in-law's part. LASZLO: Yeah, it was catered, you know. But still, a big 193 job to organize. Any party is a job, but this [laughing] especially was a big job. They made it — They were happy, and I was happy, you know. LASKEY: Well, we wish you happy birthday. Your son, as I recall, has a lot of your furniture, doesn't he, in his house? LASZLO: Oh, yes. LASKEY: That must have added a little sense of nostalgia or, you know, something a little special to the party, too. LASZLO: Unfortunately, the living room furniture which was in my house are being refinished and recovered. So, it was not [there] . There is a big room, twenty-four feet by twenty-nine feet, so we were able to put up rented tables with a U-shape. And very nice. He made a movie, you know, but — LASKEY: Oh, they did? They made a video of the party, the dinner? LASZLO: Yes. A little bit long. I have seen it last night. [laughs] So, anyhow, I don't know where — LASKEY: Here you are. LASZLO: — I was in Crown Center. I don't recall it anymore, where we stopped. LASKEY: OK, we were talking about Crown Center. And we had just really not gotten into it very much, and I think we determined to stop so that you could really start right at the beginning — 194 LASZLO: From scratch. LASKEY: — of the — LASZLO: Now, it was — I believe I told you how I got the job, because so many other architects wanted the job. Mr. Hall, Sr. , Mr. Hall, who died in the meantime, J. C. [Joyce Clyde] Hall, he wanted the best. And for one month, when they were looking in Paris, London and in New York and Chicago. And finally, it just happened that they were here in town because Mr. Hall has a house in Malibu, which he built, I believe, mainly because he was a friend of Mr. Churchill . LASKEY: Winston Churchill? LASZLO: Yeah. And Mr. Churchill told him that he painted so many seascapes, but had none on [the] Pacific Ocean. So I speculate this was the impetus to build a house in Malibu: so Churchill could come out and paint. LASKEY: And paint the seascape. Did he ever come out and paint the seascape? LASZLO: And-- No, he got a heart attack, Churchill. LASKEY: Oh. LASZLO: So then Mr. Hall installed in the house an elevator for Churchill to be able — LASKEY: Really? LASZLO: Because the bedrooms were upstairs. But he never came. They were great friends with Churchill. As a matter 195 of fact, Mr. Hall bought several Churchill paintings. LASKEY: Oh, really? LASZLO: Yeah. LASKEY: Did they stay with the family, or get dispersed with the estate? LASZLO: Oh, he won't sell it, no. It is in the main headquarters, all the paintings. They have hundreds of paintings, famous painting [s], in a vault. LASKEY: Now, are the headquarters in Kansas City? LASZLO: Yes, Kansas City, yes. Beautifully made, you know, and everything just so. When you enter into the employees' cafeteria for eight hundred people, just so — And the food, excellent. Everything is just so, really. And so they were here, Mr. Hall, Sr. , and his artistic assistant. Miss Jeanette Lee, and the president of Hall's store. Jack Kaiser. LASKEY: Yeah, I think we talked about this last time, and then the first building — You had the problems with Mr. Hall. He seems to have been a man of very strong opinions. LASZLO: Yes, which means — I was already talking about that. He gave me a dressing down. But it worked out all right, you know. And I finished up the job. And they were pleased very much. And his friend, Henry Dreyfuss — I don't [know] whether the name means — LASKEY: Yeah, I think we talked about him too, in that he 196 [was] from New York. He was the — LASZLO: So, he wrote me a nice letter and said that I did a good job. And it worked out business wise too, because it was excellent business in this particular store. And after a year or so, I did remodeling for Hall's store downtown. It worked out all right, but downtown was already dead. So they closed it up finally, because it just was nothing, you know. LASKEY: But this was a building that you liked particularly, your design, the Hall's downtown store. LASZLO: No, I didn't, no. LASKEY: Oh, you didn't? I misunderstood. LASZLO: I believe [Welton] Becket did it originally. LASKEY: Well, what was the one that you did for them near downtown? LASZLO: This was [the] so-called [Country Club] Plaza store. Plaza store. LASKEY: I see. LASZLO: V7hich is about twenty minutes from downtown. A very nice location and big homes, so it was [an] excellent location. As a matter of fact, I just got a letter a few weeks ago from the manager of this store. And he writes me that in the meantime all big stores are there: Tiffany, Cartier, and Bonwit Teller, and — you know. So it was a good location. 197 And then after a few years, I believe in '70, they called me up to come at once to Kansas City. When you worked for Hallmark and Mr. Hall [laughter] it means "take the next flight." And they created, it is a big complex [Crown Center] , similar like here. Century City, which Mr. Hall created. All new. And they had about half a million square foot of retail area. Which means they have two hotels, and office buildings, and apartment houses, and condominiums, and restaurants, you know. A big project. But I got the retail area. And they were under the impression that Neiman-Marcus would take a large part of this half a million square foot. And when I went there, it was said that Neiman-Marcus takes hundred, a hundred fifty thousand square foot, and Hall is going to take fifty thousand square foot. So, I started to work on this fifty thousand square foot job. And after two weeks Jack Kaiser again calls me up. He was the president at the time — LASKEY: What was the name? LASZLO: Jack Kaiser. LASKEY: Oh, Kaiser. LASZLO: And he was the president, at that time, of the Hall's store. But I believe I left out something. In '66, I designed a store for Hall's but under a different name: Swanson. They bought the name of a little boutique. And, let me show you how it was. [begins to 198 sketch] This was the store, plaza store, and here were buildings. But here was a parcel was which was empty. So, they didn't want the somebody should build here something which they don't like. So they bought the property. And they bought the name of an old, a little fashion store called Swanson. So I designed this store for them, too. And they opened up '67. I remember because we went, with my wife, our son, to the Expo [world's fair], to Mon- treal. They went ahead, and I went to the opening here [Kansas City]. So it was '67. In '71, I believe, started this Crown Center. So after two weeks, after I was working on this fifty thousand square foot store for Hall's, they called me up and said I had to fly back and said that Neiman-Marcus canceled his — LASKEY: Oh, dear. LASZLO: And because they are committed. Hall's [is] committed to create this retail area so I should work on the whole — [laughs] And it was a wonderful assignment, a wonderful assignment. And the store was, I believe, the most beautiful store in the whole world. Because they wanted to have the best, you know, and they let me do many things. The opening was great — a forties party, [laughs] It was excellent, really. Unfortunately — LASKEY: VJhat was special about it? V7hat were you able to do in the design there that you weren't usually able to do 199 in the design of a retail space? LASZLO: Well, first of all, a store, like say here, Robinson [ 's] , has a certain system [of] how they want to show the merchandise. And the plans are mostly pretty standard plans. And of course, the price, the budget, was years ago pretty standard. VJhich means each store knew that it will cost them, if this store [is] hundred or two hundred thousand square foot, it costs them so much, you know. How [it] is today, I don't know. But on this store, it wasn't [on] a budget. He wanted the best, you know, which means I was able to design each department artistically. Which normally you can't have it in a store. A little bit, you know, but not too much. Each store is normally is the same: racks and many things. So you change the perimeter a little bit, paint it differently. But basically, each store is the same, because they are selling the same type of merchandise. But this store was a combination of many things which, normally, a store like Robinson ['s] or Saks or — don't have, you know. It gives me a chance to create beautiful things. LASKEY: Can you remember any specific things that parti- cularly pleased you in the store? LASZLO: Oh, I have the photos. Oh, sure. I have the photos. So, of course, it was a big store, and very interesting. Unfortunately, business wasn't good. It 200 wasn't the location for such an elegant store. LASKEY: Would it have made a difference if Neiman-Marcus hadn't canceled, do you think? LASZLO: No, no. LASKEY: That wouldn't have been enough to have kept it going? LASZLO: It wasn't the location for an elegant store. LASKEY: Was it too close to downtown? LASZLO: Yes, it was too close to downtown. And they are — [the] Halls — very civic-minded. So — More coffee? LASKEY: Oh, no thank you. LASZLO: V-Jhich means they dedicated, in front of the retail area and the hotels and office building, a big plaza for entertainment, for the public, instead [of] making it a parking area. So they were ice skating, and the theater, concert[s], you know. But in the meantime, they lost this parking. Of course, they had plenty of parking, under the buildings: about eight thousand cars. But it is something people don't like: to go down, you know. LASKEY: Really? LASZLO: Down to park. LASKEY: Really. LASZLO: Here we are slowly got adjusted. But years ago it was — you park on the street. LASKEY: Were they afraid of going down? 201 LASZLO: No, it is — I don't like even here to go to these big garages. You know, you go around, around. Like [the] Shubert Theater. LASKEY: Oh, yeah. LASZLO: You know, it would be easier to park in front of the theater. LASKEY: Oh, yes. But it's just that we have so many cars that that's just not possible anymore. So I think we're getting used to parking ramps and — LASZLO: But anyhow, it just wasn't the location. It changed in the meantime, I heard, in time. But it just isn't a location for a big retail area. LASKEY: What happened to the store, do you know? LASZLO: Still there; they are losing money. LASKEY: But Hall's still owns it? LASZLO: Sure. LASKEY: They're still running it? LASZLO: Sure. LASKEY: Well, were you able — Did you use any particular materials, for example, that you didn't — LASZLO: All kinds of materials. Wonderful materials. LASKEY: Like what? LASZLO: It was [laughing] something where a designer is dreaming about it, you know. They were wonderful people, and very artistic. 202 LASKEY: Well, you had said originally that he wanted everything white. That one of your first confrontations with Mr. Hall was that he wanted it white. LASZLO: [laughs] Yeah, he changed in the meantime. LASKEY: Now, I've seen the photographs of Hall's, and it wasn't all white. So, how were you able to convince him? In fact, there's a lot of color. As I recall, you used a great deal of color. LASZLO: Yes, yes. You know, he mentioned at the beginning that he had seen a store in La Jolla. I believe it was a Bullock's store or a Magnin store. And it was all white. He said he liked it; that's what he wanted. So I went down with my assistant, [laughing] and we took color photos; it wasn't white. [laughter] LASKEY: He just remembered it as being white, is that it? LASZLO: Yes, you know, exactly. We used a lot of white, especially in the first store, plaza store. But this was a big store with constant — So you changed, you know. And they were enthusiastic about the store. But just business wasn't there [in Crown Center], so they are losing it every year. But Hallmark can afford to lose. [laughs] LASKEY: On one of their stores. I hadn't realized that Hallmark did anything other than the cards. This was, I think, a department store, a — ? LASZLO: They started out with the first store [to] find 203 out how people react, how people are buying, you know. So, it was first a research store. Later on, became a — Like they built in New York on Fifth Avenue. The architect was Edward [Durell] Stone. He designed the Hallmark store. Highly interesting, on Fifth Avenue and Fifty-sixth Street. Interesting, you know. LASKEY: Yeah. LASZLO: So they — LASKEY: I didn't know he had done any stores like that. LASZLO: They got into this store affair more and more. There are thousands of Hallmark stores, which are mostly franchised. You know, when you see — LASKEY: Oh, the card stores. I — LASZLO: The card stores, yeah. LASKEY: I had seen them around. The one that you did was, it was more of a department store, right? LASZLO: Yeah. Each store had a department for the cards. A big department for the cards. LASKEY: Oh, of course. LASZLO: But anyhow, in the meantime, they diversified even more. So anyhow, this ended my connection with Hallmark. And we are still friends, but I gave up my office. So I am out of the picture, anyhow. But it was wonderful. LASKEY: Well, you had a number of nice relationships with store — with business people — 204 LASZLO: All my clients. LASKEY: — like Ohrbach's. I was thinking of Ohrbach's and McCulloch's and — LASZLO: Robinson [' s ] . LASKEY: — that feeling that went over a period of time. LASZLO: All the people, you know. Hudson Bay [Company] in Canada; we are still corresponding. And mostly they are at the top; interesting people. Which makes it possible to work together on the same intellectual level. And so it worked out all right. LASKEY: V'Jell, did — Usually, were you able to pursue your ideas? Were they receptive to your ideas, to trying new things? Or did they generally know what they wanted and you tried to fill that need? LASZLO: Of course, we had many meetings and they had to approve everything, you know. They approved everything. But it was always a big presentation where they looked at everything and they have seen everything in sketch form, color sketches. But they let me do it. Which means I wasn't as much scrutinized later on as at the beginning of our relation, because they trusted me. LASKEY: Did you use any different approaches, stylistically, for when you were doing an office building, or if you were doing a house? For instance, I'm thinking of McCulloch. I'm looking at a picture of it [McCulloch 205 offices] , which is an extremely modern — LASZLO: Yeah. LASKEY: — spare kind of a room. The house [Robert P. and Barbara McCulloch House, Palm Springs, 1972; in collabor- ation with William F. Cody Associates] was also modern, but it was different. Do you think of them — I mean they're obviously for different purposes — but when you were designing, do you use a different set of ideas when you're designing a house as designing an office, as designing a store? LASZLO: Oh, sure. There is a great difference between a home — what you call a house — and a commercial project. Because a home is a personal thing, you know, which means you are pleasing him and her, and her friends who are coming to play bridge together. In a commercial job, like here, he wanted to have a showroom where he can display this merchandise. So, it wasn't the personal thing like [if] it is [for] McCulloch [himself]. No. He wanted to show his merchandise. Which was, at that time, he had this chainsaw, McCulloch chainsaw. And he started — He brought out an outboard motor. Maybe the name was Scott. And he was pleased. It was a big job at the [Los Angeles International] Airport. This was — You see here the outboard motors. LASKEY: They're all displayed on a rack. It looks like 206 it's on a semi-circular, sort of a circular, against a circular background; circular wall on a rack. LASZLO: Yes, all wood slats. LASKEY: This is wood, painted wood? LASZLO: Yeah, all wood. Highly interesting. But in the meantime, gone. LASKEY: Yeah, you have stainless steel and wood and glass? LASZLO: Yes, it was polished stainless steel. A very interesting — I haven't looked at it for years. [laughs] And it was a great success. And he sold his business to Black and Decker; it's a big firm. LASKEY: Oh, yes, yes. Black and Decker — LASZLO: For sixty-six million dollar[s]. LASKEY: Now, this was very stark. Very straight lines. LASZLO: Yeah. LASKEY: Very stark. LASZLO: Yeah. LASKEY: Was that new at the time? I mean, was this an innovative design? LASZLO: I don't know, [laughing] I don't know. I was never approached a job that it is new or whatever it is. I look at the problem and try to solve it, whether new or half new, I don't know. But each person worked differ- ently, [turning pages] This — I had a chainsaw — LASKEY: — mounted on the walls. Now, where was this building? 207 LASZLO: It was at the airport. Century Boulevard. LASKEY: Oh. LASZLO: There today are big hotels. He owned two blocks on Century Boulevard. LASKEY: Oh, my. LASZLO: See, everything was highly — LASKEY: Now, did he have the same approach as Mr. Hall, essentially, that he simply wanted the best that you could do? Did you have a relatively free rein? LASZLO: It was easy to work for him because he had a great sense of taste and imagination. A wonderful man, really. LASKEY: Now, it looks like this is the entrance hall, and you go up the stairs — LASZLO: This is the staircase to the — his offices. LASKEY: This is — The tile wall was a beautiful wall. LASZLO: This was a wall, you know. It was a very small mosaic. LASKEY: Do you remember how you came upon the idea of using mosaic at that time? LASZLO: [laughs] LASKEY: Because it's interesting. Everything else is, you know, so stripped down and so streamlined — LASZLO: Yeah. LASKEY: — and then the use of the mosaics is, you know, it sets if off. And then the bright colors. There's sort of a combination of things. 208 LASZLO: Actually, you know, designing is really like you create a stage play. Which means in a stage play if only good people are [in] it, it isn't interesting, you know. Which means you have to have a contrast to make it interesting. The same if you design such a project. It needs a contrast in many ways to make it really exciting. Because at that time I was not thinking [laughing] of all this, I just made [it] intuitively, you know. [laughs] But since you ask me how and why, this was the explanation, 209 TAPE NUMBER: VI, SIDE TWO FEBRUARY 8, 198 5 LASZLO: You don't start out to design with your brain, with an intellectual thinking. Just like a painter paints many times without having a definite problem or image or whatever it is, you know. The same procedure is with a designer. You see a problem, you create without thinking about the — What you asked me: "Why did you approach it this way?" I don't know. There's always a mixture of many things. Like if you do a private home, you know, then you must somehow digest the personalities of the people for whom you design and try to speak the same language in artistic form. Which means normally each designer tries to uplift the standard of their client, you know, and go higher and higher. And of course most of the time you give an addi- tional meaning to a client's life. You influence a client without wanting it; you create something which makes the person, or persons, a better human being. I noticed it in many case[s]. And, not my store[s] or something, but if you design a home, it does influence the people and gives an added dimension to their life. LASKEY: VJhen they came to you, most of the people who came to you, to have their homes designed, did they know what they wanted when they came? 210 LASZLO: Sometimes yes. But many times a design switches around. Because the person who comes to you, and he tells in words what she or he wants, this isn't the true what he or she wants. If she says blue, she doesn't mean blue. You know, she means green — or red. LASKEY: Then it's your job, then, to figure out what she means — LASZLO: Yes. LASKEY: — and not what she's saying. So that's a lot of responsibility. LASZLO: Oh, yes, but if you have experience and intuition, it helps. But experience told me that you have to analyze a person, because what he or she is telling you, this isn't what they meant. So, you try to do something which they meant, really. And many times it worked. The proof is that we are still friends after so many years. They are happy and proud of the work I did. The commercial job is, of course, something else. Because, first of all, it changes after six, eight years. They are changing, because the fashion is changing. So a store is changing, or a bank — I did several banks [begin- ning in 1962]. Of course, [laughing] he went broke, but — LASKEY: He did? LASZLO: Not because of me, you know. LASKEY: Right. 211 LASZLO: But bad loans, and too big. Even today I was reading Bank of America lost [a] hundred million dollar [s] on bad loan[s]. But it was interesting; we are still friends with the man. As a matter of fact, he came to my party too, you know. LASKEY: Oh, really? LASZLO: Yeah. You know, it wasn't his fault. If a bank gives out too many bad loans and the people don't pay it back, any bank goes broke. LASKEY: Of course. That's generally why they go broke. LASZLO: So, anyhow, we are still friends. And he is still proud of the job I did for him. I did five banks for him [S. Jon Kreedman] . LASKEY: And what was his name? LASZLO: The bank name was American City Bank. LASKEY: Oh. LASZLO: They had a downtown store, one on Wilshire, a Beverly Hills store on Camden and Wilshire, a Century City store on Santa Monica Boulevard, a store in the Valley, and two stores in Orange County. And he's a person who liked beautiful things. LASKEY: Well, most of your work was at a rather exclusive level, wasn't it? I mean, you were — Like I talked to someone, Ernst Meer, who worked for you. I asked if there was a catalog because I wanted to look at some of your 212 designs. And he said that there was no catalog because you never did the same thing twice. LASZLO: That's true. LASKEY: That you never reproduced or sold anything in any kind of a quantity that would be in catalog. LASZLO: Who told you? LASKEY: Ernst Meer. LASZLO: [laughter] Ernst Meer tell you that? Is he a friend of yours? LASKEY: He's a friend of a friend. LASZLO: He does now movies, doesn't he? LASKEY: No, I think he has a little shop. He's doing mostly chandeliers. He's in chandeliers. LASZLO: Oh, chandeliers. No, he has beautiful merchandise. LASKEY: Yes. LASZLO: Viennese mostly. LASKEY: Well, my friend was selling his chandelier, which is how I happened to meet him and — LASZLO: Yeah. No, he has beautiful merchandise. No, he left many years ago. LASKEY: But his remembrance of your work and of you was that everything was absolutely top quality, and that everything was specifically designed for the person who was buying the piece, and therefore there really were no records. 213 LASZLO: Oh, yes. LASKEY: That's a challenge. LASZLO: That was my life. Looking back and analyzing what I did good and when I was wrong-- But I believe if I would live again in the same profession, that I would do the same, because the money wasn't important. I enjoyed doing it: designing it. It would be simple to buy a chair or a desk and put it in and camouflage it with some plants, you know, [laughter] and [be] able to make more money as [than] to design something. [But] I want a chair this [way] and this, you know. But I enjoyed it immensely, and I don't have any regrets. LASKEY: You never looked at a lamp or a chair or a vase or one of your artifacts and said, "Now, this is wonderful. I'm going to turn out thousands of these," and sort of go into that, go into mass producing one of the items? Like Charles Eames, for instance, with his chairs. LASZLO: I designed, for several furniture factories, a line; what you call a line. LASKEY: Oh, you did? LASZLO: Yes, I did. But it wasn't my production. I [was] just designer; they paid me royalty, that's all. LASKEY: Right. Then they had the furniture made. [inaudible] --designer line. LASZLO: Yeah, a big firm was Heywood-Wakef ield , near 214 Boston. Old, old. The oldest furniture-making firm. Heywood-Wakef ield. And I did a line for Ficks-Reed. Ficks-Reed. They are doing rattan furniture. LASKEY: Were there any materials that you particularly liked to work in? Particularly in furniture design? Did you prefer rattan to steel, or wood to the others? LASZLO: Now, to me, rattan was always outdoor — outdoor furniture. But of course, many people are using it indoor[s] too. But, to me, basically, it is a[n] outdoor item: a terrace, a garden, you know. LASKEY: You mentioned once, or you told me, that Le Corbusier was an architect that you had admired, or whose work you admire. LASZLO: Yeah. LASKEY: And I find that interesting because your work is much more elegant and much softer — LASZLO: It's different. LASKEY: — and more livable than Le Corbusier. LASZLO: But there's a number — You know how it — I mean, I still believe that he was the greatest. LASKEY: VJhy do you believe that? LASZLO: He created a— He was really— He created the "new spirit" [I'esprit nouveau] . Which means to me, something which you design has to have a spirit. Many people — most of [the] designer [s] and people — are aiming at drama, you 215 know: to hit the people, you know. To me, it is more a spirit that you feel. You feel that it is something which talks to you, you know. And the drama isn't important. LASKEY: It isn't important? LASZLO: Isn't important, no, no. Because a drama hits you once. So it is black, red and — But after once, it is gone. And spirit is when it stays with you every day; every day look at the piece and say, "Isn't it wonder- ful." So that the difference with what Corbusier did — Even I couldn't design the same way as he did, you know. But still, still, you feel the spirit of a great man. (He died in the meantime.) And then his pupil was in Brazil, [Oscar] Niemeyer, who is [an] extraordinary talent. Niemeyer designed Brasilia, and he designed a part of the United Nation[s] building . LASKEY: Did he design it with Corbusier, or was this after Corbusier had died? LASZLO: They worked together in New York on this United Nation building, Niemeyer and Corbu. And they are just a few [of the] people who are thinking the same way as I do. When you read this newspaper article why, when some buildings are going up here, they are going to architects who are in Japan or New York or somewhere else? LASKEY: Yeah, this is an article in the [Los Angeles] 216 Times that you just handed me about — LASZLO: Yeah, there's a reason, you know. LASKEY: Do you think the reason is that they have — that you feel that these designers have that spirit that you're talking about? Or at least, the people who are paying the bills feel that they do? LASZLO: Now, you have to go back for a hundred years when an architect was a single man who designed the house and made all the details himself. But when you have ten or twenty or fifty or hundred employees — architects, drafts- men — then of course, first of all, you cannot design your building like [Welton] Becket or [Charles] Luckman or Albert [C] Martin or [William] Pereira or whoever it is. You can't. If you have hundred people within that office — Alone, the phone calls, the social engagements, the talk to clients. So he has a designer that — A big office is having teams: you know, a designer, engineer, et cetera. So, all these people get a pretty high salary. LASKEY: Yeah. LASZLO: Which means they can't fool around to figure out the best, because the time. Each architect office, as they get a job, you know, the estimator says you can spend so many dollars on design, so many hours on details, so many hours [on] engineering and so many hours [on] color scheme. It is not possible to tell an artist, you know, 217 that in ten hours you have to create something. But they have to do it because otherwise they will go broke. LASKEY: Well, what do you think this does to the art of design? LASZLO: How do you mean? LASKEY: Well, if our buildings are all being built by large organizations, which mostly they are for the reason that you're saying, what are the chances of a truly monumental building, something totally new and creative, coming out of that process? LASZLO: Oh, they are doing it. They are doing it, you know. From time to time, you find a client who isn't impressed by big offices. He feels that maybe he finds an architect who is not able to create something special. So he finds somebody, and he does the job. So he [the architect] gets more job[s], and he has to employ more people! [laughs] And you cannot change it. And beside [s], labor; we don't have skilled labor anymore. So, if you build a high rise, you know, you have to think that no skilled laborer [s] are working on it. [It is] just like an automobile factory. It is always this one, this one — The same in the building. That's the reason they look alike. Maybe the balcony [laughs] is different. But the [inaudible] thing that it should be, it should 218 conform with a system of production where the laborer who did this building, he can do here without — Because they don't have the time to think about it, you know. This is a danger of getting big and building big buildings, of course. But I heard in New York this Trump building — Have you heard it? LASKEY: The Trump [Tower] building? LASZLO: Yeah. LASKEY: No, I haven't. LASZLO: Apparently the man made a fortune. And he put up a building in New York. Everything is oversized and marble. And in [the] lobby [is] a piano player, enter- tainers — LASKEY: This is an office building? LASZLO: Yes, oh yes. Peter told me about it, my son. He is often in New York. Now, there is a special man [Donald Trump]. And [it is] difficult to make a beautiful build- ing — high rise. Very difficult. All people are impressed with this Seagram Building in New York. I don't know whether you have — LASKEY: Oh, the Seagram Building? LASZLO: Yeah. LASKEY: Oh, yes. The Mies van der Rohe and Phillip Johnson building. LASZLO: Actually, only the material was interesting. All 219 bronze. It is a good building, but nothing — Yes, Mies did it, and with Johnson. The Four Seasons restaurant is in this building. LASKEY: Well, I know it's considered to be one of our great buildings — LASZLO: Yes, a good building — LASKEY: — in the United States. I also understand that it doesn't function as well as it could, as far as the people who actually have the office space. LASZLO: Well, I don't know. Of course you can't listen to — All people — LASKEY: Right. LASZLO: — have some complaint, you know. I did not design a high-rise building. LASKEY: Well, you chose to keep your office small. LASZLO: Oh, yes. I had chances in '52 to design a — which I did — high-rise building [seventeen-story condominium] in New Orleans. And the man [B. Wohl] didn't, couldn't get a loan in this particular year. So he dropped it. VJe went together to New York to Irving Trust to get a commitment. [They said,] "No more; this year we're finished [loan- ing]." The same year I designed a shopping center which didn't work out either. So I said, "No more." LASKEY: No more big-scale projects. LASZLO: You know, big projects needs a lot of time, you 220 know. It isn't just, you know — LASKEY: Well, I would think it would be extremely difficult, if not almost impossible, for a small firm — LASZLO: Yeah. LASKEY: — to do a large project. LASZLO: I could not even — LASKEY: Right. LASZLO: — get, without hiring — Boy, oh boy. I am glad I stayed small, because as soon [as] you have employees, each has his own problem — personal problem — and I am not good at it, you know. LASKEY: Well, you did have around you a handful of artisans that you worked with quite regularly, didn't you? LASZLO: I had always five architects who worked. LASKEY: Well, I was thinking more of artisans in the glass — the people who designed those wonderful glass murals in several of the houses. LASZLO: Oh, well, now this is a part of the decoration, you know. Oh, yes. I had many. As a matter — You know, at each job I engaged the people who are good people, but free-lancer [s] . LASKEY: But if you stay small, the way you were, wouldn't that put in a better position, essentially, to be able to handpick these people, too, on a job? Because — LASZLO: Yes — 221 LASKEY: — you were working on a job-by-job situation, then you could get the people that you wanted, rather than if you were building an enormous building or complex of build- ings, you probably — it would probably be subcontracted then. LASZLO: Yes, sure. I had handpicked most of my clients too. LASKEY: Oh, [laughing] you did? LASZLO: Oh, sure. Sure. Of course, I couldn't foresee all pitfalls. But with time, I learn [ed] to eliminate client [s] which were not compatible to my ideas or my personality. It takes a certain chemistry between a professional and a client. And if you don't have it, well, you can't do a good job. LASKEY: Well, that put you in an enviable position. LASZLO: I [laughing] believe so. I remember a gentleman, a bachelor, who is fifty years [old] . And he has a big home in Holmby Hills. So he wanted to remodel his house; big house. So, I knew him, you know, for many years. And so he said what he wants to do, this way, this way, this way. So the same evening I wrote him a letter. I said to him, "You are not the client [laughing] I want to deal with." He was so proud; even he showed it [laughter] [to] other friends! You know, it is important to select your clients. 222 LASKEY: Well, it's wonderful, I would think, to be able to be in a position where you can select your clients, too. Which you were. LASZLO: Now, I never made too much money. LASKEY: No, but you had a steady enough business — LASZLO: Yeah, yeah. LASKEY: — and you were working — LASZLO: — all the time. LASKEY: — enough that you could be somewhat selective. LASZLO: I don't complain; I just say that it was more important to my life, as [than] to make a lot of money and make compromises, you know. LASKEY: Right. LASZLO: And take a lot of punishment, too. [laughter] But it worked out all right — LASKEY: Well, you obviously haven't regretted it. LASZLO: Yeah, I feel happy. And I wouldn't have changed anything in my life. LASKEY: And once you got out here to Los Angeles, you've never wanted to leave, right? LASZLO: I loved here. On the first day on, I loved [it] here. And [was] happy here. So this was wonderful; still is. LASKEY: Well, for someone who's lived here for fifty years, and talking about high rises, what do you think 223 about what's happened to Los Angeles — downtown, our skyline? LASZLO: You know, what happened here — To begin with, it grew up too fast, which means [there] wasn't correct planning. Individuals owned most of the real estate. And now see, we have here, thank god, freedom. You know, you cannot tell the people what to do with their property. But it wasn't planned. A small item: in Brentwood, when you have a home, you have to put all your garbage on the street. Well, Beverly Hills has an alley. So you put the garbage in the alley. But in Brentwood, [laughs] it's in the street, because it wasn't planned to make it correct, to make an alley. So, the same is — We have this beautiful Wilshire Boulevard. Instead of making some parks from time to time, you know, to make it more beautiful, [it is] all the way just buildings, you know. The difference to L.A. is Paris. You have some changes: big parks and this and this, which makes it beautiful. Here, of course, we have Sunset Boulevard, which is a beautiful street. Why? Because it is all green. Well, it is mostly because the buildings are behind an all-green park. Beautiful streets, you know. Sunset. But they missed on Wilshire, Olympic, and Pico; all the other streets. Why? Because it was owned by private individuals. Of course, they were more interested in the 224 money as [than] to sacrifice something. [inaudible] — beautiful — [inaudible] — was on Sunset Boulevard and VJhittier [Drive] . [going through papers] I don't know whether you noticed in there — I wrote an article, many years ago. And [Ed Rees] was a writer for Time and Life and — LASKEY: You're hired. [laughter] LASZLO: — when he sees the article, he — Anyhow, Sunset and Whittier — [begins drawing] Here is Sunset; here, a bridle path; Whittier; here starts Beverly Hills. A bridle path, you know? LASKEY: Where are we? LASZLO: Beverly Hills. LASKEY: Beverly Hills and Sunset. LASZLO: That's VJhittier. LASKEY: Oh, OK. Whittier, OK. LASZLO: And here was a home owned by a Mr. [Benjamin] Maltz. And here was an empty lot. So he gave it to the city of Beverly Hills. And it made a beautiful little park. You know, wonderful. I wrote — a few years ago — I wrote the mayor — at the time [1973-74] was Mrs. [Phyllis] Seaton was her name--of Beverly Hills. LASKEY: What was her name? LASZLO: I believe Seaton. The wife of a writer, movie writer [George Seaton] . I wrote to her how beautiful [the] 225 idea is to make it a park. So she wrote me back that actually it belonged to Mr. Maltz who lives here, and he donated his parcel [to] the city. It is now a little park with benches to sit down. LASKEY: There are several of those scattered throughout Beverly Hills. Just every now and then there will be — like the size of a lot — and it's a little park. LASZLO: It makes it beautiful, you know. But now too late to make it downtown or anywhere on Wilshire Boulevard. It is all our buildings. Washington is a beautiful city. Why? Because it is — I mean, their French architect [Pierre L'Enfant] — There's a plan there — But, to build — Of course — Do you know Paris? LASKEY: Yes. LASZLO: You know, it is beautiful because of this — LASKEY: The wide boulevards and the trees and the greens and the setbacks of the buildings — the monuments. We don't have many monuments here, either, in Los Angeles. You know, arches or public monuments. [laughter] LASZLO: We are going to have pretty soon a monument of Martin Luther King — at the monument. LASKEY: I'm sorry. What was that? LASZLO: V'Je will have, pretty soon, a monument of Martin Luther King. 226 LASKEY: Oh. But we don't — We have statues, you know. There are a few statues scattered around, but there's no arch of triumph. No, there's no — LASZLO: No. We have it in Washington. LASKEY: Yes. LASZLO: Not here. You know, Los Angeles is a new city, actually. When I came over, Wilshire Boulevard was mostly just fields. Sunset Boulevard was mostly a dirt road. It happened, really, only after the war, since '48. It is a short period of time, you know. Fortunately, we have here [in] Santa Monica beautiful streets, wide streets and very nice. LASKEY: And you're very fortunate because you have the Pacific Ocean at your front door, and they can't take that away from you. They can't build a high rise out there. [laughter] LASZLO: No, no. As I told you, it is a shame, but it is too late to change it, you know. They are doing today, we have excellent planning commissions and trying to do the best for the future. But too late now on Wilshire Boulevard or — LASKEY: Right. LASZLO: — downtown. Of course, I wasn't downtown for years. LASKEY: You were downtown? 227 LASZLO: For years, I wasn't downtown. LASKEY: Oh, you weren't— You didn't go downtown for a number of years. LASZLO: So I don't [know] what is on now. But, I don't- 228 INDEX Anderson, Margaret and Stanley, 126 Architect/client relationship, 85-86, 133-34, 135, 205, 210-11, 222 Atomic Energy Commission, 152 Barcelona chairs (Mies van der Rohe) , 27, 28 Barker Brothers, 44 Bauhaus, 25-26, 37-38 Becket, Welton, 34, 197, 217 Beverly Hills, California -changes in, 173-74, 176 -parks in, 225-26 Beverly Hills Hotel, 126-30, 132 Blanke, Ursula and Henry Heinz, 85, 118-19 Bleyle, Maria and Max, 32-34, 40, 50-51 Breuhaus, Fritz August, 14-15 Broadway department stores, 186 Brown Derby restaurant, Beverly Hills, 76 Buchman, Sidney, 121 Buhler, Alfred, 23-24 Bullock's department stores, 32, 82-83, 96, 186, 203 Chotiner, Albert H. , 79-80 Churchill, Winston, 195-96 City planning, 224-27 Clark, James, 151 Cleveland, Robert, 131 Country Club Plaza, Kansas City, Missouri, 185- 90 Courtright, Hernando, 126-30, 137-38 Crawford, Robert, 151, 152 Crown Center, Kansas City, Missouri, 191, 194, 198-99, 203 Dexter, Raymond C, 81 Dreyfuss, Henry, 98, 166, 196-97 Duthie, James H. , 171 Eden, Fritz, 86, 104-5, 146-47, 171-72 Eisenstaht, Sidney, 65 Eschke, Karl, 46 Fashion Square, Scottsdale, Arizona, 178, 179-83 Frankl, Paul T. , 101 Genis, Sadi and Sam, 136-42 Goldwater, Robert Williams, 180-81 Goldwater 's department stores, 142, 178-83 Gorgl, Hugo, 36 Gosden, Freeman F., 127-28 Griffin, Elmer, 81, 91 Gropius, Walter, 25, 26 Hall, Joyce Clyde, 185-89, 195 Hall's department 95, 178-79, 195-99, 201 Hallmark stores, 2 See also Ha Clyde; Lasz buildings d or remodele Hall's depa stores Harrison, Joan, 11 passim Helicopters as alt transportat 163-65 95-97, -96, 203 stores , 185-89, -3, 208 03-4. 11, Joyce 16, Paul-- esigned d by — rtment 3-17, ernative ion, 161, 229 Herman, Victor, 158 Hertz, Frances, 146, 154, 156 Hertz, John Daniel, 144, 146-48, 150-60 Hoffmann, Josef, 36-37 Hormel, George Albert, 86-87 Hudson Bay Company department stores, 205 Hudspeth, John, 179 Hudspeth Center, 179 Hungary, 1-13, 15, 18, 25, 30-32, 37, 51-52, 70-71, 90, 169, 174- 76 Huston, Walter, 91-92 Jurman, Walter, 81-82 Kahn, Mr. and Mrs. Walter, 61-63 Kaiser, John D. , 95-96, 186, 196, 198 Kandinsky, Wassily, 37 Klee, Paul, 37 Kokusai Theater. See Laszl6, Paul — buildings designed or remodeled by — Crenshaw movie theater Kreedman, S. Jon, 168, 211- 12 Laszl6, Hugo (uncle), 7-8 Laszl6, Mr. & Mrs. Ignac (parents ) , 1-3 , 6 , 52 Laszl6, Maxine Fife (wife), 49, 50, 54, 63, 71, 72, 83, 181-82, 187- 88 Laszl6, Paul. See also Architect /client relationship; City planning; Transpor- tation, alternatives to present system -buildings designed or remodeled by -American City Bank buildings, 212 -apartment for "Deutsche Kunst Ausstellung" exhibit, DCisseldorf, 28 -Atomville, 150, 160- 62 -Beverly Hills Hotel -bungalows, 130 -Rodeo Room, 128, 132 -suite, 128 -Blanke House, 118-21 -Bleyle House, 30, 33, 39-44, 46-50 -Brentwood Country Club clubhouse, 65-66 -Bullock's department stores, 82-83 -Burchman House, 121 -city hall in Szombathely, Hungary, 31 -Crenshaw movie theater, 105-7 -Fashion Square, Scottsdale , Arizona, 178, 179-83 -Fleischer House, 63 -Genis House, 138-42 -Goldwater ' s department store. See Fashion Square, Scottsdale, Arizona -Hall's department stores -at Country Club Plaza, 95-98, 185- 90, 197, 203 -at Crown Center, 191, 198, 199-202 -downtown, Kansas City, 230 Missouri, 197 -Harrison House, 113-17, 178 -Harth, Eddy, store, 107-12 -Hertz bomb shelter, 147-60 -Hertz House, 146-47 -Hudspeth Center, 179 -Jeffries houses. See Jeittele houses -Jeittele houses, 57 -Kahn House, 61-62 -Kokusai Theater. See Crenshaw movie theater -Kopfensteiner House, 30 -Koster houses, 134-35 -Lanz store. See Harth, Eddy, store -Laszl6 houses -Beverly Hills, 83- 85, 102, 122 -Brentwood, 83, 103-4 -Loewendahl shoe store, 7 7 -Marx House, 60-61 -McCulloch House, 206 -McCulloch Oil Building showrooms, 206-9 -"Peasant Acres." See Blanke House -Perlberg House, 143- 45 -Pinecrest Ranch School. See Hertz bomb shelter; Hertz House -"PL-47" helicopter terminal project, 163 -Rosenfield House, 81 -Saks House. See Perlberg House -Schmidt House, 24 -Swanson store, 190- 91, 198-99 -Weingarten House, 80, 81 -Weir, Robert, apart- ment, 53-54 -Wohl condo- miniums, 220 -Zacho House, 132-33 -other buildings in Vienna and Hungary, 32 -other design projects -automobiles, 165-66 -ceramic objects, 29 -fabrics, 45 -furniture, 214-15 -gloves, 55-57 -paper goods, 35, 63-64 -feelings about people changing his buildings, 126, 183-84 -location of offices, 167-73 -philosophy of archi- tecture, 209, 216 -preference for small firms, 19-20, 98-99, 166-67, 217-19, 220-22 -style of architecture -merging of inside and outside, 117, 124 -relationship to other modern architecture, 25-26, 36-39, 94-95, 101 -use of custom-made materials and indivi- dualized designs, 46, 47-48, 99-100, 213-14, 217-19, 221 Laszl6, Peter Paul (son), 64-65, 176, 192, 193, 194, 219 Le Corbusier (Charles Edouard Jeanneret- Gris), 20, 25, 215- 16 231 Lee, Jeanette, 96, 186, 196 Lennart, Harry, 181-82 LeRoy, Kitty Spiegel, 144 Liebes, Dorothy, 99 Loewendahl, Walter, Jr., 77-78 Loewendahl, Walther, Sr., 77-78 Loewy, Raymond, 166 Loos, Adolf, 3 7 Loper, Don, 128-29 Los Angeles -changes in, 173-74, 176 -planning of, 224-27 Lovelace Foundation, 151 Luckman, Charles, 34, 217 Magnin' Maltz , Martin, Mayer, McCullo Meer, E Mies va Miller, Moholy- Moran, s department stores, 203 Benjamin, 225 Albert C. , 217 Irene, 118 ch, Robert P. , 206-8, passim rnst, 212-13 n der Rohe , Ludwig, 25-26, 27, 28, 37, 219-20 Eddy, 107, 108 Nagy , LSszl6, 37 Peggy, 135 Nachtlicht, Leo, 16 Neiman-Marcus department stores, 75-76, 108, 198-99, 201 Neutra, Richard, 93-94 Nichols, Jesse Clyde, Jr., 185, 188 Niemeyer, Oscar, 216 Nymphenburg , Germany, 4 7 Ohrbach's department stores, 205 Olbrich, Josef, 37 Paris, France, 224, 226 Parker, Maynard, 131 Paul Laszlo (book by Laszl6), 99-100 Perlberg, Mr. and Mrs. William, 143-44 Pereira, William, 217 Rees, Ed, 225 Roth, Louis, 107, 108 Rott, Maria, 24, 29 Saks, Leona Hertz, 144-46 Saks Fifth Avenue, 144, 168, 200 Scherle, Hans, 22 Schindler, Rudolph, 94 Schulman, Julius, 130-31 Seagram Building (New York), 219-20 Seaton, Phyllis, 225-26 Selznick, David, 117-18 Standard Cabinet Works, 100 Stone, Edward Durell, 204 Strakosch, Hans de , 86, 89-90 Swanson stores, 190-91, 198-99 Szombathely, Hungary, 1-4 30-32 Teague, Walter Dorwin, 166 Teller, Edward, 148 Transportation, alterna- tives to present system, 161, 163-65 Trump, Donald, 219 Trump Tower (New York), 219 Universal Studios, 88, 89, 135 Vienna "Secessionists," 37 36- V^agner, Otto, 36, 37 Washington, D.C., planning of, 226 Weber, Richard, 32-33 Weingarten, Sylvia and Lawrence A. , 80-81 Weir, Mr. and Mrs. Robert, 54-55 232 Weissenhof exhibit, 25, 26-27 Western Dye House, Inc., 112 Wiener Werkstatte, 36 Williams, Paul, 137 Wlach, Otto, 36 World V7ar I, 7-11 World War II, 87-89, 111-12 Wolff, Selma, 54 Zacho, Axel, 132-33 233 <^^ ^OFCAllFORto ^^MEUNIVERS55. ^lOSANCEltr^ ^OFCAUFOff^ ^OFCAUFOR^ ?r//y •5. ,— '» I- £? ^lOSANCflfj> University of California Library Los Angeles This book is DUE on the last date stamped below. »s 33 % ? ^^r "^/iajAiNnrnv* ;>S! 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