Consulting and Curating the Modern Interior

The Work of Hilde Reiss, 1943–1946

Authored by: Erin McKellar

The Routledge Companion to Women in Architecture

Print publication date:  June  2021
Online publication date:  June  2021

Print ISBN: 9780367232344
eBook ISBN: 9780429278891
Adobe ISBN:

10.4324/9780429278891-18

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Abstract

This chapter examines Bauhaus-trained Hilde Reiss’s architectural consultancy and curatorship, arguing that her career presents a model for evaluating women’s roles in the architectural profession. Although Reiss never practiced architecture, she guided ordinary Americans’ conceptions of modern architecture as a consultant for the Vallejo Housing Authority and as a curator for the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis. This chapter analyzes two of her projects: Your Home (1943–1944), a short magazine that Reiss wrote and edited to advise inhabitants of Vallejo’s war housing projects on how to transform their temporary dwellings into homes, and Ideas for Better Living (1946), a Walker Art Center display that aimed to familiarize visitors with modern domestic architecture and design by showcasing objects ranging from tableware to architectural plans. This chapter makes extensive use of the Walker Art Center’s archives, including an oral history project with Reiss, and relies on close readings of Reiss’s published works, such as Your Home and the Everyday Art Quarterly. By examining such material this chapter contends that architectural practice represents only one way to understand women’s architectural narratives, illustrating that platforms such as consultancy and curatorship represent significant yet largely unexplored modes of women’s architectural agency.

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