Antonin Raymond was born in Kladno, Bohemia (now the Czech Republic) in 1888. He studied at the Czech Polytechnic Institute and completed his studies in Trieste in 1910 before leaving for New York City. There he began a three-year employment with Cass Gilbert, the prominent American architect, working on a number of projects including the Woolworth Building and the Austin, Nichols and Company Warehouse in Brooklyn. He began to study painting in 1912, and a painting trip to Italy and North Africa was cut short by the onset of World War I. While on his way home to New York, Antonin met his future wife and business partner, Noémi Pernessin. They were wed in December 1914.
Noémi was born in 1888 in Cannes, France. She studied fine art and philosophy at Columbia Teachers College. After their marriage, while Antonin studied painting Noémi supported them both by doing graphic work for publications like the New York Sun and the New York Herald Tribune
In 1916 Antonin was employed by Frank Lloyd Wright at Taliesin in Spring Green, WI. In 1917 he enlisted with the United States Army serving overseas with the American Expeditionary Force. After his discharge from the army and his return to New York, Wright persuaded him to go to Tokyo with him to work on the Imperial Hotel. He worked with Wright until 1921 when he set up the American Architectural and Engineering Company in Tokyo with Leon Whittaker Slack.
While the Raymonds lived in Japan, Noémi increased her interest in Japanese art and philosophy, including woodblock prints. She expanded her design repertoire to include textiles, rugs, furniture, glass and silverware. Noémi exhibited in Tokyo and New York.
In January 1938, Antonin, Noémi, and their son left Tokyo bound for America. Antonin’s architectural practice in the United States began with the purchase and conversion of their farm and studio in Solebury Township. He and Noémi had a goal “create a physical and intellectual environment that mirrored and supported their approach to modern design with lessons learned from Japan’s craft tradition”. They hoped that the lifestyle and design ethos that they would create would be simpler and more in tune with nature.
Raymond developed a prospectus for aspiring architects to come to live and study at New Hope, and he attracted at least 20. In addition to teaching practical design solutions, the apprentices had hands-on work with various building trades. Raymond sought real-world projects for them to work on to put his theories into practice. Projects included an assortment of houses and extensions in New Jersey, Connecticut, and Long Island.
In May 1943, the Raymonds vouched for George Nakashima and his family, ensuring their release from a Japanese internment camp in Idaho, so that they could come and live at the New Hope farm. This same 130-acre Raymond farm on Pidcock Creek Road in Solebury Township has been preserved by their family through conservation easement.
Noémi and Antonin are recognized throughout the world as pioneers of modern architecture and design. They worked as partners in design for over sixty years. Their careers included designs for factories, office buildings, churches, and schools, as well as furniture and fabric.
Antonin Raymond passed away in 1976.
Noémi Raymond passed away in 1980.