Combining exquisite architectural details, an extraordinary collection of twentieth-century furniture and decorative arts, a world-class contemporary art collection, and an immersive sculpture park, Rowdy Meadow in Hunting Valley, Ohio, is much more than a visionary house. Designed and decorated by Peter Pennoyer Architects in the spirit of Czech Cubism — an ephemeral movement notable for its exploration of prismatic forms — and set in 140 acres of countryside comprising apple orchards, meadows, forests and ravines, the house is the brainchild of prominent art collector Scott Mueller, and is fuelled by his love of art and nature. In their new book, “ROWDY MEADOW: House, Land, Art” which will be published by Vendom Press on October 12, 2021, the project’s architect Peter Pennoyer and historian Anne Walker guide readers through this extraordinary residence with the help of Eric Piasecki’s photography.
Rowdy Meadow was designed to not only be an intimate family house but also a welcoming place for visitors to view its art collections – in fact the entire estate will be bequeathed to the Cleveland Museum of Art. “I didn’t set out to design a house museum”, Mueller recounts, but “once we decided to donate, then we felt why not put in the detail and build a masterpiece of architectural design”.
Underpinned by the Czech Cubist affinity for polygons, prisms, facets and angular forms, the interiors are characterized by a crystalline aesthetic and sculptural flair. From the octagonal mosaic-clad foyer swathed in porphyry red and brilliant orange hues, to the double-height, oak-panelled library featuring a sculpted ceiling inspired by the Baroque-Gothic work of Czech architect Jan Santini Aichel, to the custom hand-painted silk wallpaper on the dining room’s walls, to the playful patterns of colourful Moroccan zellige tiles in the sun-porch inspired by the work of Austria Secession artist Koloman Moser and Austrian architect Joseph Urban, each room is a unique amalgam of creativity and inspiration, thoughtfully designed in dialogue with the artworks and furnishings on display.
Spread throughout the house, Mueller’s art collection focuses on contemporary art, with a gallery displaying some of the larger pieces, including Damien Hirst’s triptych Bringing Forth the Fruits of Righteousness from Darkness (2008) and Ai Weiwei’s Crystal Cube (2014), while his furniture and decorative arts collection spans the entire twentieth century from Art Nouveau, Art Deco and Arts and Crafts, to early and mid-century modernism, all the way through to contemporary design.
The house is complemented by an extensive sculpture park designed with the help of landscape architect Reed Hilderbrand, bringing together thirty-eight pieces that range widely in scale, material and content. Works on display include six site-specific installations by British sculptor Andy Goldsworthy, such as Contour 950 (2016), a completely level path snaking through the woods and meadows like a ribbon on a topographic map, Anish Kapoor’s C-Curve (2007), a large, bowed stainless-steel panel, and Richard Serra’s five enormous totem-like steel plates named Rowdy Meadow Ridges (2018). All combined, the sculpture park, residence, bespoke interiors, and art and design collection, it becomes evident that Rowdy Meadows is a true Gesamtkunstwerk — a complete work of art.