The Rose and Corbusier’s Voyage d’Orient

February 5, 2013 § 1 Comment

2:48pm, I’m at the Flipside café (I just finished the previous entry) and Morcheeba’s “Part of the Process” — a song I loved circa 1998 is playing in the background. Desiring a bit of familiarity after my bout with Delhi Belly, I enjoyed a calm breakfast of toast and marmalade and sunny-side-up eggs at the Rose. When i was walking out, a little boy, he must have been no older than three started to approach the door of the Rose. I watched as he padded up to the welcome mat and peeked in. I watched as his eyes widened at what must have seemed an alternate universe to him. After staring agog for about half a minute he quickly closed the door and ran back to the alley where he probably lived. The Rose is a relatively new boutique hotel run by French ex-pats. There are not one but three mats on which you wipe your feet before entering. The creamy white walls and pale green Rajastani tile floor stand in stark contrast to the muddy alley it opens onto. Even though Hauz Khas has become a haunt for Indian yuppies and privileged bohemians it still maintains pockets of working class dwellings. For some reason this whole scene reminded me of Corbusier’s obsessive fascination with the interiors of the ‘Orient’—a place that he could only rarely access—this was of course the reverse situation—that inaccessibility based on different grounds entirely.

Zeynep Celik actually wrote a very nice article about Corbusier’s eastern obsession in “LeCorbusier, Orientalism, Colonialism” published in Assemblage and Francesco Passanti tackled this issue through from an extremely different angle in his article “The Vernacular, Modernism, LeCorbusier” published in JSAH. Actually the reproduction of Corbusier’s carnets from his voyage d’orient are one of those items that I covet. 

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