Response to Doug LaBrecque's Post about FLW Furniture

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pharding
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Response to Doug LaBrecque's Post about FLW Furniture

Post by pharding »

For some reason with this Wright Chat software I can't post replies. I am forced to post new messages and reference back to the original post.



I will look into it tomorrow. My initial thoughts: 1. FLW furniture from the period of your beautiful house would be most appropriate. 2. It should work with the architecture of the house, including the geometry, and its finish. 3. Comfort is a consideration. 4. At the risk of being called a heretic I would give consideration to including an Eames Lounge Chair and Ottoman in cherry with FLW pieces. The Eames Lounge Chair is close to the period and is incredibly comfortable.

SDR
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Post by SDR »

[The second time I try to post -- after being sent to the index page -- is always successful.]



Mr LaBrecque asks about dining chairs. I see no reason to abandon comfort, and fortunately Mr Wright seems to have agreed, at least tacitly. The Pew house is shown in his own book, "The Natural House," with Eames DCW (dining chair, wood) chairs in not one but two photos. Here is one of them. The chair was designed in 1945 so would be period-apropriate. The Herman Miller company still makes this chair.

Image



The other appropriate chair might be one of the unique dining chairs Wright designed for some of the houses of the period; any from approximately the year of your house would arguably be "correct." I don't believe there is anything specific about these chairs, made of plywood and solid wood and with an upholstered seat or seat pad, that makes any of them particularly wedded to the house they were designed for.
Last edited by SDR on Sat Feb 03, 2007 10:53 pm, edited 1 time in total.

SDR
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Post by SDR »

Here's a chair I admire, from Wright's Mossberg house of 1948, in South Bend, Indiana.

Image



Here's a piece from the Robert Llewellyn Wright house, one of the hemicycle designs which you mentioned.

Image



This was designed for the George Sturges house of 1939. There are a number of designs in this vein, usually in lighter woods, designed for various of the Usonian houses.

Image

The flat or downsloping seat would not be comfortable, in my experience.



These three photos are from "Frank Lloyd Wright: Furniture" (Peregrine Smith; 1993) by Thomas A Heinz.



SDR

Richard
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Post by Richard »

While on the subject. There are lots of used Thonet chairs out there at the modernest antique shops which are very high quality (E.g.: Broadway Antique Mart in Chicago- difficult staff, great stuff). Most are bent plywood. I recently picked up a set which are very similar to the Eames chairs in the photo. The Thonets are quite a bit less expensive. I have also picked up 10 Thonets which are a bit larger and squarer for the dining room etc. Both styles are very comfortable and can be gotten at a fraction of the price. I have examined both the Thonet and the newer Eames and the Thonet are made as well or better. Seems like the city of Chicago dumped a huge amount of a squareish Thonet style a while back and were in many shops most in prime condition.
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outside in
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Post by outside in »

there are variety of pieces that would work in the house - and living ONLY with Wright pieces is probably inconsistent with most FLW homes built at this time. For example, TWest had Ralph Rapson rockers, lounge chairs from Marshall Fields with the legs modified, Danish chairs. Other Wright clients experimented with Aalto, Kjaerholm and other Scandinavian furniture, as well as Prouve', Thonet and of course, Eames. My advice is only to avoid the museum look and have some fun.

Ed Jarolin
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Post by Ed Jarolin »

Furniture by George Nakashima has been used in at least 2 Wright houses.



In the Coonley Playhouse lounge chairs, benches and coffee tables were the items used. Though obviously not of the time period of the building they were apparently felt, by the current owners, to be in keeping with the organic spirit.



In the Hagan House, aka Kentuck Knob, some Nakashima furniture was used after Wright declined to produced custom designed pieces (except for the dining table) for this house. Here dining chairs, both the grass seated and conoid types, as well as coffee tables and various bookcases were selected by the owners. Also the Wright dining table was stored and a Nakashima table substituted as it was felt the veneered table would not hold up as well to usage as the solid wood Nakashima piece. Careful study of photos leads me to believe that two different Nakashima tables were used at different times. I had the good fortune of visiting the Hagans twice and feel that the Nakashima furniture complemented the Wright built-ins quite well.



I believe the Nakashima designs are still being produced, but have not verified this in several years.

John Edwards
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Furniture Question

Post by John Edwards »

The Mossberg chair shown above is nearly identical to a pair of FLW chairs I have from the Anthony House. While they don't look as though they would be comfortable, I find them to be both comfortable and sculpturally elegant. They are, however somewhat fragile in their construction. If you find that you wish to reproduce these for your home, I would be glad to offer some suggestions on dealing with their frailties.

I would think, based on their construction methods and the spartan stock from which they are constructed, that they could be reproduced rather economically by any half-way capable cabinet shop.



I would agree with Mr. Harding assessment that the Eames chairs as well as many other warm-toned wood mid-century pieces could fit in well too.

SDR
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Post by SDR »

It was my feeling as well that the Mossberg et al chair type should be relatively easy to reproduce. Getting the curves right is often the downfall of those who wish to replicate a curvy piece. Info on its structural deficiencies would be welcome !



Thomas Heinz states in his book that slouching in this chair is discouraged by the fact that there is "not that much seat." Sounds about right for a dining chair. (A recent news article detailed the need for wider seating for today's larger American behind. Manufacturers are complying, apparently.)



Nakashima would be a respectable choice for Wright's later buildings; I find it difficult to imagine in an early work like the Coonley Playhouse.



SDR

Ed Jarolin
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Post by Ed Jarolin »

See 'FLlW:Prairie Houses' or 'FLlW:The Houses' for pics of the Nakashima furniture in the Coonley Playhouse.

Doug LaBrecque
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Post by Doug LaBrecque »

Thanks for the suggestions guys. I was actually just looking for specific Wright designed furniture that might work in the Meyer house. If I cannot find something that I like, then I will consider my other options. There will still be room aplenty for a few pieces of mid-century modern that I like and would look beautiful in the house.



The Mossberg chair, while being the spot on perfect choice for the house, is just terribly uncomfortable. I believe these chairs are also in the Boulter house. Chuck if you read this, can you verify? I really like the look of the dining chairs in the Trier house, but they might be too specific.



Paul, I love Eames so don't think of yourself as a heretic. I am the one with Roycroft and Stickley strewn about a Wright designed mid century marvel.
Doug LaBrecque

dkottum
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Meyer house furniture

Post by dkottum »

Throughout FLLW's career he used a variety of woods in his homes. But he almost never used a variety of woods in the same home. His preference was always to find an acceptable material, and stick with it throughout the design.



The Meyer house is of mahogany wood trim, and the furnishings should therefore be of mahogany as well. The style of the furnishings is a secondary consideration.



The primary theme of the house is it's circular forms, followed by rectangular shapes, such as the windows, giving clues to appropriate furnishings. Examination of the existing dining table, and shelves and countertops may give more.



Think of the house and its furnishings as a perfectly coordinated ensemble, all in harmony with the other.



Doug Kottom, Battle Lake

JimM
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Post by JimM »

Ed Jarolin wrote:after Wright declined to produced custom designed pieces (except for the dining table) for this house.


Anyone else find this interesting? I can understand a client "declining" furniture designs (due to cost/comfort issues), but never thought Wright himself would "decline" to do so!



No "spirit moved him" on certain houses? That would be odd.



Avoided furniture design more than one would think? Possible, but I always thought a cohesive "whole" was of more importance to him, regardless of comfort issues or cost.



Any known reasons or speculations would be appreciated.

Ed Jarolin
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Post by Ed Jarolin »

From the book 'Kentuck Knob:Frank Lloyd Wright's House for I.N. Hagan

and Bernardine Hagan' by Bernardine Hagan.



"As the winter of 1956 was coming to an end, the interior of the house was just about complete with the exception of the kitchen counters, and it was time to decide on the furnishings. We called Taliesin and explained to Mr. Wright that we were ready for carpet and furniture. He responded that he would send us a carpet plan-I should choose the colors. Now, as to furniture, we were told to go to New York and look at the display of Scandinavian furniture at George Jensen. I have no idea how Mr. Wright knew of this, except that he was spending much time in New York City supervising the building of the Guggenheim Museum. At the same time I believe there was a showing of some of this furniture at the Museum of Modern Art."



The Hagans proceeded to New York in the company of Edgar Kaufmann Jr. and designer Paul Mayen and purchased a few Scandinavian pieces. While there they saw a New York Times article on George Nakashima and decided to return home via New Hope, PA where his studio was located. They "loved the pieces" and ordered dining chairs, stools, a chest and a coffee table.



The word "declined" is my inference based on this story by the owner.

I believe Wright just never was able to get around to the furniture designs given the pressure of the Guggenheim commission and the rest of the work he was engaged in at the time. It is a little surprising to me that he didn't recycle some early designs instead of just suggesting the Scandinavian route. If my recall of a conversation with Mr. Hagan is

accurate, Wright did willingly agree to the use of the Nakashima pieces.



Incidentally, the book is a good read with construction photos, copies of correspondence with Wright, Nakashima's sketches for 'his' dining table and other items of interest.

JimM
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Post by JimM »

Thanks, for the additional info, Ed.



I agree, he was probably just pressed for time, and was classy enough to acknowledge the art of others-at least of those meeting "his" approval!



I'm going to pick up the Kentuck Knob book, sounds delicious.

dkottum
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Usonian furnishings

Post by dkottum »

These large living rooms are difficult to furnish with regard to the "cohesive whole" JimM refers to, unless the client's lifestyle is considered. They just seem to get various groupings of sitting areas. It seems to me the Hagen living room seems to have a loose and scattered look to it's furnishings, even after the Hagens in more recent years.



I think what is missing is at least another function in such a large space. In the Taliesin and Zimmerman living rooms, for example, part of the room is dedicated to performing music with their FLLW music stand, benches, and piano. Fallingwater is equally successful with its library, sitting, conversation, and dining functions, and no furniture gathered about the fireplace. The fireplace serves all areas.



The question then is, how might Mr LaBrecque use his living room?



Doug Kottom, Battle Lake

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