If you’re even a tiny bit interested in mid-century modern design, chances are you’ve heard the name Eichler bandied around left, right and center. Credited for bringing modernist architecture to the American masses, Eichler is somewhat of a trailblazer in architectural circles, transforming the face of home design in and around California. To put this into perspective, an Eichler home is widely considered to be the hallmark of mid-century modern – so if you’re a fan of wood paneling, gabled ceilings, and floor-to-ceiling glazed walls, then you owe Eichler some serious gratitude. Read on for our quick primer on all things Eichler where we break down just what an Eichler home is and more.
Who was Eichler?
Born in 1900, Joseph Eichler began his career as a successful businessman in the dairy farm sector.
Eichler later became a prevalent real estate developer, with the aim of making modern architecture accessible to the masses. More than a developer however, he was also considered by many to be a social visionary. To accompany his modern homes, Eichler wanted to create inclusive and diverse planned communities featuring integrated parks and community centers. Notably, Eichler established a non-discrimination policy, offering his homes to anyone regardless of religion or race.
What is an Eichler Home?
An Eichler home is one of the 11,000 dwellings built by Eichler and his company, Eichler Homes, between 1949 and 1966. Many consider Eichler homes to have changed the face of modern architecture and interior design in California. Indeed, today they’re known as quintessential examples of the mid-century modern, or California modern, aesthetic.
In a time where modern architecture was limited to custom homes and large corporate buildings, the impact of Eichler homes cannot be overstated. In many ways, Eichler gave ordinary residents the opportunity to participate and engage with contemporary design.
More importantly, Eichler homes gave its occupants the chance to live the California dream. Set on winding roads with beautiful landscapes, the neighborhoods and homes Eichler built encouraged interaction with nature and the community. Overall, the significance of an Eichler home is as much about the lifestyle it came with as it is about the advent of populist modern design.
What Are the Unique Features of an Eichler Home?
Architecturally speaking, Eichler homes are known for their flat or low-slung gabled roofs and low, horizontal forms. These features can be seen as a tribute to the work of modernists like Mies van der Rohe.
A signature Eichler concept focused on bringing the outside in. Thus, Eichler homes typically boast floor-to-ceiling windows, skylights and transoms, complete with private outdoor rooms and patios.
Inside, Eichler homes emphasize functional open plan layouts together with sliding doors and open air entry atriums. Interior finishes include exposed post and beam construction, vertical wood panels and concrete slab flooring. As for the furniture, homes were fitted with local materials like Mahogany and Douglas-Fir.
A testament to the power and influence of Eichler’s designs, Eichler homes still remain as popular as ever. Though the original Eichler creations are of course comparable to the Holy Grail for fans of modernist architecture, copycat or ‘inspired by’ versions of Eichler homes have taken on a life of their own. As seen in projects by Klopf Architecture and Lloyd Russell, these homes feature all the classic Eichler characteristics but with a contemporary twist. Clearly the legacy of Eichler homes will continue to reign supreme for many years to come.
So there you have it, a complete guide to Eichler and the Eichler home!
Are you a fan of the mid-century modern design style? Then make sure to check out our love letter to iconic mid-century modern designers. Also head to our guide to 1940s furniture design to find out more about the origins of this design movement.