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1949 Taliesin Origami Chair - Dimensions? Sketches? Drawing?

Posted: Wed May 28, 2008 9:15 am
by cahudson42
Does anyone have - or know where to get - dimensional/angle/drawing information on the 1949 Taliesin Origami Chair? Or the Cassina version? I've tried to look everywhere, but no luck.

I'd like to make a couple for my own use in my summer camp. While I don't need a detailed build plan - any sketchs of the sides, back, seat, and arm would sure help. Failing that, just the dimensional/angle info would help a lot.

While I could try to 'scale off' everything from the photos based on the 15" seat height, since the photos are at an angle I'll have to try and compensate for the perspective too. (And is the 15" seat height measured down from the top of the cushion or from the seat board? Assuming the cushion is very sqooshy, I'd guess measured to the board - but it doesn't seem 15" high when looking at the photos. Anyone know which it is??)

I don't mind paying for the drawings/plans if they are reasonable and someone knows where they can be bought.

Any help at all greatly appreciated - dimensions, better photos, sketches etc. plan source, - whatever.


P.S. I did find plans for an armless version (shown last below) for $3.99 at I thought it well worth it. But I would add some underneath seat and inside side cleats and probably use pocket-hole joinery instead of the screwed butt-joints they used.

Undated Taliesin Origami (Simon Clay photo, "Frank Lloyd Wright," Iain Thomson, Thunder Bay, 1997)

Taliesin Chair, 1949, Cherry in natural or walnut finish; Beech in mahogany, oak, or ebony finish; Variety of fabrics; 30 1/4" high, 37" wide, 35 1/2" deep, 14 7/8" to seat height; Atelier International/Cassina" (shown in "The Wright Style," Carla Lind, Archetype, 1992)


Posted: Wed May 28, 2008 11:59 am
by DavidC
This won't answer your question re: detailed measurements, but if you haven't seen it already you may find this earlier thread discussing the Origami Chair of interest.


Posted: Wed May 28, 2008 12:38 pm
I think I can say with some confidence that the 14 7/8" seat height is to the top of the cushion. The main angle is the 60 degree angle between the back and the sides. The drawings can be very hard to come by and the model featured in that other thread shows quite a unique handling of the back and the seat.

Posted: Wed May 28, 2008 1:39 pm
by Reidy
The FLlW Foundation at Taliesin West ( has in the past been willing to sell copies of Wright's drawings for copying costs plus a royalty if you plan to publish or commercialize them. They might do the same for furniture.

Posted: Wed May 28, 2008 4:19 pm
by cahudson42
Thanks TnGuy - Yep - I did see that one - its where I 'borrowed' my 2 pics from.. :D Thanks Reidy - worth a shot, though I read somewhere someone has exclusive furniture rights.

And MHOLUBAR, thank you for eliminating one more variable - the 60 degree back to side angle, and your 14 7/8 inch cushion-top confirmation. Makes sense. If I use the Cassina JPG, scaling off the right front edge (as looking into the photo), I get about 6" for the cushion. It also looks to be maybe 5" from cushion-top to the lowest front of the arm, which when compared to the typical 8", seems reasonable considering the seat tilts down while the arms tilt up.

Anyone have an idea of the angle rise for the arms? Lets say elbows should end up at the typical 8" This seems to be the seat to (level) arm height even in the typical Adirondack chair plans I've looked at (where of course the seat tilts back as well - likely even steeper). Now say wrist to elbow is about 12". So if the initial height is 5", and one foot back it is 3" higher - the rise is 1 in 4 - or 14 degrees.

What about the seat tilt-angle? If is 36" deep, and 9" from the ground at front (15 - 6) - I get 14 degrees again. Doesn't seem unreasonable when Adirondacks are maybe 19 to 22 degree tilt - and hard to get up out of.

Back appears to be at a right angle to the seat? So it tilts back 14 degrees as well. Seems OK. And if seat is 20" deep and at a right angle to it - the back might typically be 20" square - 20" tall. And scaling off Cassina - using the left rear edge, gives about 20" high.

Cassina says it is 37" wide. Does this include the arms? With the 60 degree side angles, if the rear of the seat were 20" wide, at 20" deep, the front should be 35". Too wide. But if the back were 18", it should be about 31". Still, somethings not right. I can't see the front width of the seat being much more than maybe 23" to what? 25"? And if the arms were 8'" wide, 37 - 16 is 21"... a more typical number.

Anyone with further suggestions on dimensions, angles, whatever?

At this point I'll probably pick up a sheet of 5/8 CDX and trying mocking somehing up over the weekend.

Any and all help/suggestions always appreciated.


Posted: Wed May 28, 2008 6:39 pm
by cahudson42
Hi Reidy,

Here is the reply I got to your suggestion:

"Thank you for contacting the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation. You asked if you have a copy of the Origami Chair drawing by Frank Lloyd Wright to recreate the chair for your own personal use. I am very sorry that we are unable to grant your request, as it would create a breach of the Foundation’s obligation to our furniture licgensee, Copeland Furniture. "

There are numerous photographs of the Origami Chair online. You may want to do a search on the Frank Lloyd Wright Conservancy blog. At one time, there was a string of messages with photographs of various homemade Origami Chairs.

Thank you again for contacting the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation. Please contact me if you have any further questions."

BTW - as far as I can tell from the website, Copeland does not offer this as a chair or drawing.


Posted: Wed May 28, 2008 7:09 pm
by DavidC
The Origami Chair that is shown in the "Dominos Pizza Collection" book (pg 108-109) list's the overall dimensions as: 30 1/2" x 41 1/8" x 36 5/8".


Posted: Wed May 28, 2008 10:37 pm
by SDR
Guess-timating the angles and dimensions of a piece like this, from photos and a few known dimensions, as above, seems a risky business. However, a straight side view would allow a reasonable measurement of some primary angles. In combination with the known overall height, a good elevation/section drawing of the side view might be possible.

These are the Origami chairs at the Sturges house. The right-hand chair seems to be a good candidate; note that the upward-tapering darker wedge at the rear is actually the back panel.

This is one of the simplest of the various Origami examples -- no central back spine, no metal feet, etc. Note that the seat panel takes a slight bend where it appears at the front of the chair (?).

Did John Lautner have these made, do you suppose ?



Posted: Thu May 29, 2008 7:07 pm
by SDR
The most useful photos would be carefully-aimed top, front, side and rear views. From these, measurable drawings could be devised.


Origami chair

Posted: Thu May 29, 2008 9:27 pm
by dkottum
A 1937 Taliesin plan for this chair with five views including plan, elevations, and sections, as well as individual components, all with dimensions, was published in a exhibition catalog from Eaton Fine Art, Inc titled "Frank Lloyd Wright The Seat of Genius 1895-1955", page 58. It is reduced to only 2 1/2" by 4 1/2" so the drawings are pretty good, but the dimensions are poor. There are also many other plans of chairs in the catalog.

Doug Kottum, Battle Lake, MN

Origami Chair

Posted: Thu May 29, 2008 10:15 pm
by Wrightgeek

I spoke to the Copelands of Copeland Furniture at the FLWBC in Chicago last fall, and inquired about their future plans to produce any of the Usonian pieces.

I then specifically asked about the Origami/Butterfly Chair, and was told that it was on their radar screen, though they were non-commital about any timelines for production and/or sale dates.

Posted: Sat May 31, 2008 8:59 am
by cahudson42

First, thanks all for the many great suggestions.

I'm starting to appreciate - like a good recipe - there can be many unique variations to choose from. Hopefully by next weekend, I will be ready to try a mockup or two.

For those interested in some further examples, Jackless (post above) sent some very nice high resolution photos from Samara. They are JPGs each about 400K, so I left them in Jack's zipfile - which he has kindly allowed me to post here for download should you wish.

Here is one of them:


Some of Jack's other shots are from the top, sides, and front - which should help a lot in scaling the dimensions and angles from the photos.

I've now also seen some beautiful recently constructed examples. Plans for the chair were apparently included in the overall plans for the Don M. Stromquist house in Bountiful, UT. (This is for sale? has been sold? or?) ... index.html

Here is a still of the chair from the above site:


I believe these chairs were constructed from the original plans by Mr Geoffrey Fitzwilliam, Designer/Craftsman/Artist. Here is a page from his website showing his work:

Truly a beautiful fine furniture example. Geoffrey's main site URL is:

Also Geoffrey apparently received the OK to make one extra, which he has now on eBay. One you could finish as you wish. If you are looking for a fine furniture example, this is certainly one. ... 0245061718

From the photos on eBay, its clear Geoffrey took the time to mitre the joint between the arm and the side, even though it was going to be covered by upholstery. No butt joint. A real craftsman. (spline, biscuits, locking mitre, or dowels Geoffrey?)

Another recent example is offered by Korman Woodworks.


Notice that the interior sides on this one are left wood and the front stretcher has a bit of a prow. At the rear, rather than extending the seat to intersect the floor, there are two plywood legs (I wondered how many people might have tripped over the original extended seat approach :>).
But no 'anti-tip' in front. Another fine furniture example.

Yet I'm looking for something for my Adirondack summer camp - something to make instead of one more Adirondack Chair. (I have wondered, though, if FLLW might have sat in an Adirondack Chair before designing his Origami. There are similarities - like the way the seat was extended to intersect the floor/ground.

I've got on order a few sheets of $30 3/4 A/C - the only 3/4 stuff the local lumberyard that delivers carries. Plus a sheet of 5/8 CDX for mockup. Should have Wednesday or so. Here at my camp, my 'workshop' is outside - and 'fair weather only'. While I have light-duty table saw, bandsaw, surface planer, drill press, belt sander, router, etc. - I have to move them all out from the ex-mower shed. But at least I don't have to worry about dust collection.

In this case, I think I'm going to be very glad I brought along my Festool TS55 and will use it for this project. If you are into woodworking, and have not tried it, it is amazing - and perhaps actually worth Festool's exhorbitant price. Precise absolutely splinter-free plywood cuts, any angle, and beveled too. Looks like we will need all of that for this chair.

More later..


Posted: Sun Jun 01, 2008 9:59 pm
by pharding
cahudson42 wrote: ...In this case, I think I'm going to be very glad I brought along my Festool TS55 and will use it for this project. If you are into woodworking, and have not tried it, it is amazing - and perhaps actually worth Festool's exhorbitant price. Precise absolutely splinter-free plywood cuts, any angle, and beveled too. Looks like we will need all of that for this chair.
+1 Festool makes the finest powertools available today. They are rather amazing.

Posted: Sun Jun 01, 2008 10:33 pm
by SDR
The saw is nice -- if pricey. It still makes me nervous to use the fence without clamping it down. . .


Posted: Mon Jun 02, 2008 3:08 pm
by cahudson42

You are sure right. I always - always clamp it. No router mat, carpet tape, whatever. The included sliding rail clamps usually makes it easy.

Clamping also lets me make sure my cutline is where I want it - and will stay there.

I also wish I had my MFT here at my Adirondack camp. Unfortunately, no pickup or truck to bring it up from FL.