My childhood in the Tischler’s Schindler house
Please also see my interview with Adolph Tischler, Diane’s father. It will help you understand the house and his history with it.
Steve Wallet: Many people find Schindler’s buildings, particularly his later buildings like your house (Fig 1), to be unpleasantly strange. Do you understand that view, or has the house always looked beautiful to you? Has living in the house affected your view of other non-mainstream, unconventional art and architecture?
Diane Garver: I never found the house unpleasantly strange, different but it is what I knew and was used to. I found normal houses strange, dark, flat, exposed to the streets and the public. My friends didn’t know it was raining unless the sky had opened up. When I moved in with people who liked to move furniture around in the house I was utterly conflicted.
My father’s furniture was all attached to the walls when I lived there, everything, the kitchen nook, the couches, the beds. (Fig 2) Later when I started piano lessons and we got the baby grand piano it was the only piece of movable furniture. I like to move stuff around now but I remember thinking to myself this is going to be really strange, why would anyone want to do this?
What did you think of the people coming through to see the house? How often did they come through?
I know that I was aware of people downstairs in the street often taking pictures as they still do. When I was older the tours would make arrangements to come through with students and occasionally appointments were set up for a small group. I remember once after moving out and on a visit noticed the people downstairs taking pictures. I asked Dad why don’t we ask them up and he said if he asked everyone up who stopped for pictures it would be all the time. Then one time when my husband and I were there for vacation we were sitting around eating breakfast when a bus pulled up in front. Apparently the tour had been set up but no one ever set it up with Dad. We all scrambled out of sight so they could see the house. Luckily both Nancy & I had moved out by then so the house was more presentable than it was when two teen age girls lived there.
Your father and you
What was it like to grow up with a father who is so artistically talented? How did that affect you? Do you draw/paint/sculpt…?
This may be surprising but my father’s multi talents in the visual arts were somewhat inhibiting. I found that the artistic pursuits for me were with things my father never ventured into such as macramé, collages, flower arranging. I still play the piano. I also love to cook and find that I am my most creative in the kitchen.
Did he keep regular hours at his shop or did he work from home too? I saw his workshop at the house. Did he do metal work there or just home fix-it projects?
My Dad usually worked 2 jobs, his job to support the family and his art/metalwork. He worked in the art department at Douglas. He went to work for Douglas soon after getting in the house as he had more responsibilities. He and his friends did art development and illustrations there. Later he supervised the art dept at Aerospace Corp in El Segundo and eventually became the manager of the art dept and supervised 100 people until he retired. It was technical art designed to support the air force or other contractors coming to Aerospace to present projects. Dad’s department produced the accompanying art. I know his friends who worked with him there and at Aerospace. They were all artists who worked to support their families and produced art on the side. I am sure they would have all preferred to only do their own creative art but needed the regularity of a paycheck and benefits to support the family.
He worked from home pretty much all the time on his art work, he has a shop in back and used to go out there at night and come in with the mask and a face full of silver shavings. He used to joke that he should have had sons who could help with the polishing. Woman’s Lib hadn’t taken hold yet and I wish it had so I could have learned the art of metal work and jewelry. When I was really young he was gone at night because he worked the swing shift at Douglas, I don’t know if he went to a metal shop during the day then.
I have seen the “Duo” tableware (mentioned in my first Tischler House post) described in different places as stainless steel and ebony, and stainless and black nylon (Fig 3). Do you know which is correct?
“Duo” is stainless and black nylon. Dad had something done to it so it had a texture, not shinny, it looked more organic. There were lots of problems with this material when it was washed in the dishwasher every day; glue loosened, inserts got loose and sometimes discolored with harsh soaps. He has solved this problem now and has fixed those that he could, mostly ours. His “nth” pattern is more modern and also stainless, it was included at the LACMA show last year on the 40’s and 50’s exhibit. (Fig 4) His first pattern was gorgeous, with silver and rosewood inset handles, it was named ADRA. (Fig 5) That was the name of his company as well and it is also my middle name as I was born during its time. The name ADRA came from the first two letters of his first name and the first two letters of his partner Ralph’s first name.
How involved were you in his silver business?
I wasn’t very involved with the business but do remember the silverware patterns. I was pre-teen and teen then. I remember trying to come up with names, then Dad would check to see if anything else already had the name. I also learned the “nth” degree when he finally came up with that name for the first stainless pattern. When I was born he had the metal shop with some others and their initials made up the name ADRA which was the name of his pattern of silver with beautiful rosewood handles with silver screws. I remember the felt holders with the pockets for the utensils and playing with them. They only came out for special occasions where we used the stainless Nth and Duo all the time. Dad still uses the Nth daily and I use the Duo.
How were the “duo” and “nth” lines produced? Did he make prototypes and have them mass produced by someone else?
The ADRA early stuff and the bowls, candlesticks and other sculpture pieces were done by hand. (Figs 6-9) The stainless started that way and when Dad felt confident in them he did invest in mass produced, stamped out and then polished by him at home.
Does he still do metalwork? I’ve seen his wonderful paintings. Has his art changed with age? Are there things that require fine motor skills and good eye sight that he has had to move away from?
His art changes but has always been non- conforming to say the least. He has pretty much lived his life that way as much as he could and support a family. My mom was a stay at home mom, troop leader and car pooler. He has had to move away from art only because his art requires him to stand and move around a lot and that is hard to do now for the floor is cement, the studio is cold or hot and his legs aren’t able to keep him on his feet the way they used to. I know he misses it a lot.
I will say one more thing about my Dad and our life at the house. I always joke with people saying that the house was my Dad’s favorite child. It never left and never argued. There was no doubt that he was the boss of the house, the way it looked and the way it was decorated or not decorated. As I decorate my own homes I realize that my Mom, my sister nor myself never really had an influence on the house or made our mark on it. I don’t know what my Mother would have done with the house if she could have displayed things. The house never had a feminine side even though my Dad lived there with 3 females. My Mom was proud of the house and I never heard her complain about wanting to put something out that Dad didn’t go along with. They were married for many years before they had kids or built there so maybe those things were already decided between them.
I think the experience of living there gave an edge to my personality that made me a little different without actually having to be different. It brought me more attention than my shy childhood personality would have on it’s own.
I have one more story. Recently my husband’s daughter brought a red velvet cake to the house, it was served in the dining area. She said “What happened to the cake? I’ve had it before and it was red inside but here it’s purple and dark.” One more time the blue ceiling turns red into purple.