June 2016 Newsletter
HAPPY FATHER’S DAY!
Recognized as the father of modern structural design, a difficult genius with a personal life of controversy and turmoil, Frank Lloyd Wright, the world renowned architect, was married three times and fathered seven children. Despite abandonment by their father, his children and heirs became successful architects and interior designers. Read about his spectacular life in the Article section.
Of all the stained glass windows designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, the most iconic pattern associated with his name is referred to as the “Tree of Life.” In this issue we feature our take on his design with our Multi-Colored Tree of Life Mission Style table lamp. See the Featured Item below.
Architect Frank Lloyd Wright 1867 – 1959
Multi-Colored Tree of Life
Like a stained glass window, this shade lights up in bright joyousness. The multi colored pattern is based on Frank Lloyd Wright’s Tree of Life window. [read more]
ARTICLE : Frank Lloyd Wright;
Renowned Architect, Notorious Father
A Visionary Genius
Frank Lloyd Wright - celebrated American architect, born in Wisconsin, 1867-1959. Original and innovative, Wright redefined our concept of space without doors, introducing revolutionary designs such as the open floor plan, radiant heating systems and low cost materials as concrete and glass. His radical ingenuity transformed domestic life during the turn of the 20th century to freedom of autonomy when the norm was still the formal Victorian house necessitating servants.
The Darwin D. Martin House; 1903-1905, Buffalo, New York - Executive of the Larkin Soap Company
Wright’s “Prairie Style” unique residential complex of buildings designed for the Martin family is characterized by strong horizontal and vertical lines and planes inspired by the Arts & Crafts movement in England. The house’s main rooms with long windows, flowed together in an uninterrupted space. Striking and Spartan-like, the Martin House is considered to be one of the finest achievements of perhaps Wright’s entire career and was named a National Historic Landmark in 1986.
The Martin House Complex, built 1903-1905
The Martin House main room
Martin House Entry Hall under restoration
Martin House Dining Room
Meyer May House, 1909 Prairie Style
Fallingwater; 1935-1939 -- The Kaufmann Family of Department Store Wealth
Wright believed that structures should be in harmony with the environment, blending into the surroundings. A prime example is Fallingwater, a residence built for his clients over a waterfall in southwest Pennsylvania. It earned instant fame and in 1964 became a National Historic Landmark that offers guided tours to the public.
Wright also designed the interior elements of his buildings such as the furniture, lighting fixtures, textiles and stained glass accents. Designed for the Martin House, (see above), the Tree of Life window’s motif is taken from an ancient symbol that appears in the traditional legends and religions of many cultures. It is the manifestation of the interconnectedness of all life and death emanating from the Divine to Earth and back to the Divine.
Tree of Life tapestry
The Tree of Life Window; Martin House -1905
In this window, consisting of over 700 individual pieces of glass, Wright has reduced the tree to its most elemental, geometric form, with a square for the roots, simple straight lines for the trunk, and chevrons for the branches. Leaves are indicated by pieces of colored glass. They are set at a slightly different angle to simulate the shimmer of leaves waving in the breeze. Wright conceived of windows to be dense enough to provide some privacy and as filters to control the quality and play of light in a room.
A strong-willed individual with dramatic idiosyncrasies, Frank Lloyd Wright’s colorful personal life often made headlines for his theatrical temperament as a commissioned artist but most notably for the 1914 fire and murders at his Taliesin studio.
In the 1890s, as a young man with a wife and children, Wright was constantly short on funds due to his expensive tastes in wardrobe, vehicles and luxuries. He was not paternal, leaving his wife, Catherine, to care for the family. By 1898 the local gossips knew him as a man-about-town.
Tree of Life Window, Martin House 1905
Wright, age 23, at home with first wife Catherine, Oak Park Illinois, 1890
Scandal & Tragedy
In 1903 Wright was commissioned to design a house for his neighbor, Edwin Cheney. He immediately took a liking to the neighbor’s wife, Mamah. The two fell in love and caused a huge scandal when they moved to Italy abandoning their spouses and children. A year later they returned and lived in the new home Wright had built.
In 1914, while Wright was working in Chicago, a male servant set fire to the home. As the fire raged he axed seven people to death including Mrs. Cheney, her two children, workmen and service people. The servant later died in jail from complications following a suicide attempt at the time of the fire.
Wright age 38, 1905
In 1922 Wright’s wife granted him a divorce so that he could marry his business partner Maude Noel. But because of her drug addiction the marriage lasted less than a year. While still married to Maude, Wright met Olga Lazovich at a ballet performance in Chicago. Olga moved into his residence and soon afterward gave birth to their daughter. Olga was 26, Wright was 57.
Then in 1925 crossed wires from a newly installed telephone system caused another fire to destroy part of his home. Meanwhile, in 1926, Olga’s ex-husband sought custody of their daughter and had Wright and Olga arrested under the Mann Act. Even though charges were dropped the headlines were scandalous. Then in 1927 the bank claimed his home. In 1928 when Wright’s divorce was finalized from Maude, he and Olga were married.
Olga Lazovich, age 26
Throughout his scandals, Wright was accepting architectural commissions worldwide. However, due to his penchant to embellish his designs, refusal to compromise and delays due to his personal affairs he gained a reputation for causing large cost overruns. During the construction of Fallingwater there was an altercation with the contractor who argued that the cantilevered balconies and terraces Wright designed so that the family would live with the waterfalls, were not sound. Overruled by Wright, but in cahoots with the family, the contractor secretly added extra steel to the horizontal concrete elements. In 2002 additional steel supports were added.
Wright Knows Best
Through his designs Wright dictated the living style of his clients. Small, isolated bedrooms and efficient small kitchens and dining rooms flowed into the main living areas. No need for decorating. These areas were outfitted with built-in seating and lighting designed by Wright. He intended that the family’s gatherings would focus on the fireplace which he considered to be the heart of the home.
Cozy seating by the fireplace, Martin House
Wheeling and Dealing
Wright was also a prominent dealer in Japanese art. He frequently served as both architect and art dealer to the same clients making more from selling art than from his work as an architect. However, rumors spread that Wright was selling retouched prints which put an end to his career as an art dealer. Since Wright continually had great financial troubles from his tendency to live beyond his means, In 1927 he was forced to sell much of his art collection to pay off outstanding debts.
Stronger Than Ever in His Senior Years
While the average person would be retired in their 60s, Wright designed his most powerful works well into his 80s.
Guggenheim Museum, New York City 1943-1959
Johnson Wax Headquarters, Racine, Wisconsin, 1936
In 1937 Wright built Taliesin West, his winter home and School of Architecture in the desert in Scottsdale, Arizona, (Itself an interesting read). He wintered there every year until his death in 1959 at the age of 91. Students and faculty lived a communal lifestyle, (dining on Olga’s special dishes), according to Wright’s philosophies and dictates.
Taliesin West Home & Architectural School 1940s
This and That
Wright designed his own clothing. He had a theatrical fashion sense and usually wore expensive silk suits, flowing bow ties, dramatic hats and capes. He spent lavishly on many flashy, exotic vehicles over the years.
Frank Lloyd Wright's Mercedes Benz 300SL Gullwing Sedan
Wright did not affiliate with the American Institute of Architects calling the organization “a harbor or refuge for the incompetent”.
As with any architect, Wright worked in a collaborative process but claimed the works as his own designs.
Frank, age 88 and Olga, Taliesin West 1956
Credited with designing more than 1,000 homes, inspiring generations of builders, constantly embroiled in scandal whether in personal life or business, some hated him, some loved him, but in the end, few could deny that Frank Lloyd Wright was the most important architect in America- and perhaps the world. A visionary, writer, educator, Frank Lloyd Wright’s creative period spanned more than 70 years.
Wright received much honorary recognition for his lifetime achievements including in 1966 a 2 cent commemorative US postage stamp. In 1991 Wright was recognized as “the greatest American architect of all time.”
Frank Lloyd Wright
1966 US stamp