chapter  4
16 Pages

Vernacular influences I

The Native American projects, 1938–1941
WithCesar A. Cruz

This chapter looks at a number of projects that Klumb undertook on behalf of the Bureau of Indian Affairs. This part of the story traces how Klumb drew inspiration from the colors, textures, materials, forms, and aesthetics of Native American arts, commercial products, and other cultural objects. The chapter then shows how Klumb translated those indigenous elements into culturally sensitive modern designs of furniture, museum exhibits (including a 1941 MoMA exhibit), and a tribal community house. This great interest in and experience with vernacular building practices made Klumb an unusual architect in his time. The main argument in this chapter is that, for Klumb, learning about, transforming, and adapting highly localized, culturally specific building practices was not a casual affair. It was a full immersion into new worlds, which he then incorporated into his design thinking.