Photography: Neil Landino
Nestled just a train ride away from New York in New Canaan, Connecticut is every minimalist’s dream structure: the Glass House, made by architect Philip Johnson in 1949 almost entirely from — you guessed it — glass (save, of course, for a large brick cylinder containing a bathroom). The historic landmark, which sits on 49 acres of lush property dotted with mysterious ancillary structures, just celebrated 10 years of being open to the public, and needless to say, a party was in order. Luckily, plenty of art lovers, architecture heads, New Canaan neighbors, uptown socialites, downtown party animals, and even Martha Stewart were on hand to celebrate with an afternoon of cocktails, picnicking, and viewing exhibitions by Julian Schnabel and Robert Indiana.
While it was tempting for a nature-starved New Yorker to grab a drink and a lunch basket and spend the next several hours wandering the sprawling grounds, the afternoon’s centerpiece was The Metamorphoses, a performance conceived by Jonah Bokaer Choreography, which began with dancers leaping out from behind Indiana’s massive number sculptures before running around the perimeter of the house and finally reaching the lake below. Inspired by Ovid’s poem by the same name, the performance was conceived especially for the unique structure of the property and sought to explore topics like migration, disappearance, and the importance of water.
Thanks to speakers scattered throughout the grounds, often hidden amidst beds of grass, Stavros Gasparatos’s accompanying sound design felt all-encompassing, lending an eerie vibe to the otherwise picturesque Connecticut day. “I kind of feel like someone’s gonna jump out of the grass and get me,” one partygoer, perched on a FriendsWithYou + Design Within Reach beanbag chair, remarked.
Before his death in 2005, Johnson used the property as a place to both entertain and commune with nature, a fact that makes partying there on a summer afternoon feel all the more fitting. In addition to the pellucid main house, there are several smaller structures worth investigating, including a guest house (where Andy Warhol is rumored to have stayed), a library, a chain-link “Ghost House,” and a pointy red building called “Da Monsta,” the name of which apparently came out of a period when Johnson was listening to a lot of rap and hip-hop music.
As for what everybody wore during the festivities, well, the very New York crowd donned their Connecticut finest, which meant gauzy sundresses, cheeky clutches, statement sunnies, and even the occasional parasol or paper fan for women, and everything from linen shirts to seersucker suits for men.