Thursday, July 2, 2009

When Two Minds Meet

Mmm, we hear the name Goldfinger and we are inexplicably led to one of 007’s arch enemies, who had a bit of a penchant for gold. However dig a little deeper and we come across another man of the name Goldfinger who had a penchant for architecture. Erno Goldfinger was a Hungarian born architect and furniture designer who worked primarily in England and who was a key member of the Modern Movement.

His style which was very austere and severe and almost brutal at times ended up being an integral part of modernist architecture in England during the 1920’s and 1930’s. His buildings and designs contrasted dramatically with the surroundings in which they were located in. In the setting of old London and other areas his designs stood alone and thus demanded to be looked at and studied for their own merits and then as to how they related to their surroundings. Even right through to the late 1960’s Goldfinger was there, and England is dotted to testaments of his legacy, like the Trellick Tower in London, one of the landmark attempts of high-rise residential living.

The façade of the Georgian mansion he updated for Helena Rubinstein’s new London salon on Grafton Street in 1925. was a triumph of modernist design. The salon was located in chic Mayfair. Goldfinger's original design included Madame’s name illuminated in lights, repeated four times down the side of the building, which Madame vetoed as she thought it bad taste. Goldfinger resented Rubinstein as being overbearing- an adjective often used to describe himself, however in retrospect, he could see how interesting she was. Stubbornly, Goldfinger forced through the starkly modern design which was to the taste of neither Madame or of her customers, nor indeed of the builders who tried to add decorative touches to Goldfinger's drawings in the belief that he must have accidentally forgotten them. Although he struggled even to be paid for the project, Goldfinger succeeded in building 'the first modern shop in London' with a fully glazed façade which is today's standard treatment.
I don’t have a photo of the salon’s exterior however it would have been similar to the below.

The interior of the beauty salon was designed in a minimal way, with chrome and glass fittings faintly reminiscent of hospital interiors.

Sadly destroyed during World War II, Madame’s London Salon was redone in a totally different style. As usual Madame, had a knack for sourcing hitherto unknown talent and paving the way for their success.


  1. All that talent AND he could make a fez look chic!

    LOVE the designs!

  2. Ilduce, makes you want to out and get one?


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