2 Willow Rd in Hampstead is the former home of architect Ernö Goldfinger.
He designed and built the house in in 1939.
This inspirational home, the middle of 3 terraced houses, is one of the few modern movement houses, complete with its original contents, that is open to the public.
During the 1930s Hampstead replaced Chelsea as the place where significant numbers of artists lived and worked. Some of the artists who became Goldfinger’s friends, notably Roland Penrose and Lee Miller, were associated with the Surrealist movement. Among the Surrealist devices reflected at Willow Rd is the emphasis on framing openings.
The Surrealists were also pioneers in the collecting and display of found objects, elevating things otherwise considered worthless into items of curiosity and inspiration.
The Main Bedroom
The use of colour plays an important part at 2 Willow Rd. A carefully devised sequence of colours defines the surfaces of walls and floors, growing lighter and brighter as one ascends through the house. The range of colours used is similar to those used by Cubist painters such as Georges Braque and Juan Gris.
The use of texture also plays a part. Although most of the surfaces are smooth, they vary from the reflective shine of Armstrong tile floors and gloss paint to matt plywood and fine-textured concrete.
Modern architecture used the most advanced mechanical services available, but by the 1930s these had not developed very far. The living room has an open fire, a feature of nearly all modern houses of the 1930s in spite of its traditional associations, although here it is contained entirely within its opening, lifted off the floor to provide more effective radiant heat and prevent the clutter of a hearth.
To preserve the sense of pure volumes within the house, built-in cupboards and fittings were designed by Goldfinger and provided wherever possible. The main bedroom wardrobe is fitted with wooden trays, each carefully dimensioned to particular items of clothing.
Also of interest is the Goldfinger’s art collection, which includes works by Henry Moore and Max Ernst, amongst others.