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Designers Present Pasadena With a Birthday Gift of Its Past

June 29, 1986|EVELYN De WOLFE

The Pasadena chapter of the American Society of Interior Designers has focused its efforts this year on producing a unique birthday gift for the city, which is celebrating its first century.

The gift is a precise inventory, with detailed documentation of important interior spaces within the Crown City as a permanent, descriptive and photographic record available to the public nationwide. Depository of the unusual gift will be the Pasadena Heritage Society.

"Interior design is a fragile art," commented the project chairman, designer Sherry Payne, "and we believe this type of documentation is particularly significant because it incorporates so many fine examples of excellent craftsmanship and artistic expression."

Many of the exteriors of such structures have been documented in detail, Payne said, but the interiors in most cases, being more vulnerable to changes, are easily lost, making restoration of an original concept far more difficult.

Eight Major Interiors

The chapter's gift to the city, and only the first research phase of an on-going chapter project, includes eight major interiors of historic, aesthetic and/or cultural interest within the Pasadena area. They are:

Pasadena Civic Auditorium, Pasadena Playhouse Auditorium, All Saints Church, Polytechnic School, Castle Green, the Gamble House, the YWCA and City Hall.

Pen-and-ink renderings of each project were done by ASID member Terry Harris Cartwright and slides were taken by Michael Chang, a student at Art Center College of Design, while Barbara Renzullo, a member of the chapter's Industry Foundation, is credited with coordinating and assembling the material.

The Significant Interiors Survey, a project performed by ASID chapters in major cities, is often co-sponsored by preservation, historical or civic organizations or academic institutions. The program, started in New York in 1979 by ASID fellow R. Michael Brown, is being carried out in 15 major cities.

'Worthy of Consideration'

"All types of interiors, from industrial to palatial or residential are part of our collective experience and therefore worthy of consideration," Payne explained.

"We believe there is no date at which an interior becomes 'significant,' so, while the survey contains primarily historic interiors, there are modern spaces, as well."

Background research on a building is gathered from libraries, historical societies, corporate files and publications.

In addition, an ASID member/surveyor will visit a building and complete a detailed survey form that includes detailed descriptions of each important space. Slides are also taken and all materials are forwarded to the central national ASID computer center.

Uniform Information Guide

ASID entered the computer field in the 1970s to develop computer systems for designers, and in 1982 a special program was devised by the computer experts for the Significant Interiors Survey which would allow a uniform cross-referenced guide for all information accumulated through this work, Payne explained.

"I think the primary factor in the computerization of our growing national survey system, (now occuring in more than 20 cities around the country) is the ability to retrieve information."

The system has capacity for a variety of information that allows the searcher to locate a single bit of information of millions entered. For an example, Payne stated, if a designer or a student of design wishes to pinpoint the locations of major art pieces of a certain period, such as lamps by Tiffany, this design information, often in its original setting, can be made available through a number of variables: type of interior, architectural style, architect or builder.

Some searches aided by the ASID computer on Significant Interiors Surveys through the ASID computer system included interiors with both Louis Comfort Tiffany and John La Farge decoration for a Pratt Institute graduate student, notable lobby and arcade interiors for a project of public spaces and Art Deco interiors for the Historic Preservation program.

"Our choices are very selective in the vast irreplaceable patrimony that exists," Payne stressed. "As designers we are very much aware of protecting interiors of extraordinary quality and provide a basis for rational and sensitive reuse of interior spaces of quality."

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