Celebrated photographer Margaret Bourke-White didn't want just any apartment in New York's iconic Chrysler building. According to Stephen Bennett Phillips, a curator at the Phillips Collection; organized the traveling exhibition "Margaret Bourke-White: The Photography of Design, 1927-1936," she wanted the 61st floor, the terrace where two of the American eagle gargoyles are and where she climbed out to take some of her most well known photographs. No one else was living in the building at the time except for the janitor. Fortune, where she was the first photographer hired for the magazine, wouldn't rent her the space on her own, because she was a single woman, even though she was making tens of thousands of dollars. Her lease had to be cosigned by Time Inc. She paid $387.92 per month, plus electricity -- that was a lot of money back then. She moved in there in 1930 and hired her good friend, John Vassos, an industrial designer, to create an art deco stylish interior, with extensive custom built-ins, subdued palette, woods and metals. He added an alcove desk, a built in bar below a cantilevered fish tank with a stainless steel frame, and a conversation corner swathed in Fabrikoid, a chic, leather like fabric. Stairs with a streamlined banister led to an outdoor terrace which Bourke White was not allowed to use, but entertained friends there anyway. She stayed at the Chrysler Building until 1934 when the rent became too outrageous. Click here for a Margaret Bourke-White photo of the Chrysler Building, New York for a beautiful image of the art deco building in its glory. Margaret Bourke-White was a frequent visitor to John Vassos's home in Silvermine, CT and took gorgeous photos of his earliest products.
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Danielle Shapiro, is a writer and author of the first biography of John Vassos, modernist Greek-American industrial designer - John Vassos: Industrial Design for Modern Life.