Lina Bo Bardi’s private residence Casa de Vidro in the suburbs of Sao Paulo has been read as a manifesto of avant-gardist architecture and was widely admired for its iconic glazed living space. The imagery promoted by her told the story of a modern woman who escapes the iconographic stereotypes of her period. Nevertheless, the Casa de Vidro met with criticism especially by colleagues, such as her former employer Gio Ponti regarding precisely the social aspirations that should accompany a work of the modernist movement. He stated, there was a secret inscribed in the project. Her acceptance of servile labor and the way she organized the maid’s quarters - a HIDDEN INTERIOR in the literal sense. Still in the cultural, social and economic context of Brazil at that time employing aid for domestic life was common in well-off households and cannot be thoughtlessly denounced as exploitation. As a matter of fact, the quarters allocated to service were far in advance of prevailing standards, the servants were given an apartment of their own, with bedrooms, a living room, and a large veranda. In addition, the latest American appliances were introduced to the house. However, the project also draws parallels to the unloading of domestic workload on the shoulders of poor women as maids in the process of emancipation of housewives in middle- and upper-class America. Offering choice for the privileged and taking advantage of those for whom work remained a necessity. Shifting the problematic of domestic labor from a question of gender to one of race. The image of Lina as an emancipated intellectual woman leaning on the façade of her work gazing into landscape and future rests on the support of her husband’s wealth and their social position in Brazilian society when concurrently these were the only circumstances in which a career like hers seemed possible for a woman at the time.

furnishings in the Casa de Vidro just after completion

recreation of the famous picture of Lina Bo Bardi standing at the window in the Casa de Vidro 


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