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Posted: Sat Nov 10, 2018 12:56 pm
by JimM
Roderick Grant wrote:(JimM, you didn't lift any diamonds while you were there, did you? I remember an old film with Terry Thomas, "Make Mine Mink" (1960) about a band of unlikely burglars casing, the Tower. Hilarious.)
... had no heist planned, but have I not been to enough museums to think viewing anything on a "moving sidewalk" an unpleasant experience? I found the buildings much more interesting than those rocks on display.

Posted: Sat Nov 10, 2018 1:52 pm
by Roderick Grant
On page 38 of the book is a plan as-built. The dimensions, based on a 4' grid, are 20'x25'. Assuming north to be at the top of the plan, the desk and "wall" are on the east; the floor-to-ceiling louvered panels, 2' wide, are on the west; the north wall consists of 4'-wide cypress veneer, full-height panels, with two slab doors cut into them matching the graining; and the south wall has the tall cabinets with the louvered panels peeking over. The louvered panels on both west and south walls admit light from large windows about 2' behind, and also serve as light sources at night.

In 1955 the office was moved to the Edgar J. Kaufmann Charitable Foundation and Charitable Trust. A b/w photo taken just after that move shows two items I don't see in any photos of the VA installations: In the SE corner, under the 'wall', there was a couch, or day bed, from the desk to the wall of cabinetry, a simple wood base with a thick mattress. This was included in the original design, since it exists in a FLW preliminary drawing. Also, a chrome-plated floor model ash tray, a simple flat circle at the floor, a cylinder rising to support a cylindrical ash tray. Don't see many of those anymore.

Posted: Sat Nov 10, 2018 2:11 pm
by SDR
I was wondering about the physical location of the Edgar J. Kaufmann Charitable Foundation and Charitable Trust. This page answers that, and perhaps other questions as well.


Posted: Sat Nov 10, 2018 2:28 pm
by Roderick Grant
Also at the V&A is the original furniture for the Feldman House in Berkeley. The second owners gave it to the museum, because the new owners, a couple in the interior decoration industry, thought the yellow upholstery looked like urine.

I wonder if that furniture is on display, or moldering in the shadows where the Kaufmann Office spent so many years?

Posted: Sat Nov 10, 2018 5:32 pm
by JChoate
The V&A website presents some very nice photos of the office with its ceiling in place and also what appear to be exterior windows with built-in louver/blinds over windows on two walls. I don't know if these photos date back to the Pittsburg locations, or if at some point when installed at the V&A it looked like this with the ceiling in place, and windows simulated.
Here's a link to their website: ... ank-lloyd/

When we look at the website's photos we see this, which gives us a pretty good sense of what it felt like to be in the room.
(V&A Museum photos)

Note that the floor appears to be plywood like the walls.
Also note the beautiful & subtle rug, which matches the chair upholstery. According to the V&A website: "The room’s carpet and textiles were designed by Loja Saarinen who headed the textile workshop at the prestigious Cranbrook Academy of Art in Michigan".

The V&A website also includes photos showing the office set up without its ceiling. This is how it appeared in the Kyoto Museum of Art's exhibit. There, it was difficult there to get the feeling of being enclosed in that warm wood. The white walls of the museum contrasted strongly with the wood tones, making it seem darker than it probably seemed originally when your eye could adjust to the surroundings when they were all equally toned.

(V&A Museum photos)

Hopefully, the new permanent installation will include the ceiling and as much of the walls as possible.

Posted: Sat Nov 10, 2018 8:34 pm
by SDR
Excellent. So the V&A show(s) the room well day-lighted from above . . .

To accompany that, here's Storrer's little illustrated essay. He mentions colors which are helpful, while suggesting (okay, stating) that the mural is made of cedar. Now, what is/are the specie(s) found in this space ?

So many questions, so little time . . .


©, and thanks to, William Allin Storrer

Posted: Sat Nov 10, 2018 8:38 pm
by SDR
Answering my own question for once, the V&A say that the office is made of swamp cypress plywood . . .

Panelled room

Place of origin:
Pittsburgh (assembled)

1935-1937 (designed)
1937 (constructed)

Wright, Frank Lloyd, born 1867 - died 1959 (designer)

Materials and Techniques:
Panels of swamp cypress plywood

Credit Line:
Given by Edgar Kaufmann, Jr

Museum number:
W.9:1 to 240-1974

Gallery location:
In Storage

Posted: Sat Nov 10, 2018 10:11 pm
by Meisolus
I would be astonished if the V&A did not include the ceiling in the future permanent display. Rather a big deal was made a few years ago when the magnificent Norfolk House music room was put on view, as it was the entire original space. My understanding is that before this the music room was shown partially or in sections. Considering it is much larger than the Kaufmann Office, I can't believe they wouldn't include the entire room.

My recollection of seeing the office on display in Pittsburgh is that the wall opposite the elaborate desk wall was removed and you looked into the room that way. The ceiling was present. My memory may be a bit fuzzy after nearly 20 years though.

Posted: Sat Nov 10, 2018 11:16 pm
by SDR
Your description seems to match what's seen in James's color photos. I've been looking for an in-situ photo of the louvered wall(s) with daylight coming through them. Hard to believe no one would shoot that view . . .

Here's an odd photo from "Merchant Prince and Master Builder," p 29 Fig 13, no date, uncredited.


Posted: Sun Nov 11, 2018 2:45 pm
by Roderick Grant
It would probably be difficult to funnel visitors through with the entire room enclosed. As Storrer's plan shows, there are doors only at one end, although there is a third door to the left of the armchair. Getting a line of viewers going in and out might be a challenge. But all four walls must be included if anything like the original experience is to be accomplished.

Another installation that (originally) was compromised was the Little Living Room. The ceiling was too low to build the entire roof, so they lopped off a bit of it. Though now, I am given to understand, the whole thing has been moved to a roomier location. In that case, viewers can enter from one door at the far end of the room, the one leading to the porch, to a small space cordoned off by a railing. After taking it in, you turn around and "Excuse me. Excuse me." make your way back out.

Posted: Sat Dec 15, 2018 5:54 pm
by SDR
My Dover Hoffmann has this lengthy footnote on the office, and two photos -- the usual one of the desk and mural, one of the opposite wall:





© 1993, W A Storrer

Posted: Fri Dec 13, 2019 5:27 pm
by DavidC