Preparing an unbuilt chair design for construction

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pharding
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Post by pharding »

I agree that the project is based upon twisted logic. The restored house is intended to be a house museum. What is the point of putting a fake, phony chair in a museum as if it somehow existed? The sketch of a chair design, taken from an advertisement for another house never went beyond that level on that project or any other subsequent project. Obviously that chair design is one big muddle fraught with issues as people here try to make sense of the ideas. Undoubtedly Frank Lloyd Wright chose not to ever build that sketch of a chair for good reasons unknown but to himself. A bad idea done well is still a bad idea.
Last edited by pharding on Sun Feb 24, 2013 2:10 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Paul Harding FAIA Restoration Architect for FLW's 1901 E. Arthur Davenport House, 1941 Lloyd Lewis House, 1952 Glore House | www.harding.com | LinkedIn

Roderick Grant
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Post by Roderick Grant »

Page through Thomas Heinz's book "FLW Interiors and Furniture" -- at least through the Prairie period -- and you will see one thing: No matter what FLW's chairs might do to a sitter's sacroiliac or a lifter's abdominal hernia, they are all sublimely simple designs. The drawing of the chair is not. Like the bowl with the plant, it's just a device to give the impression of how an interior space might look furnished. FLW would never have designed such a tortured piece to be produced.

SDR
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Post by SDR »

The few dots on the side panel in the picture suggest to me fabric. I could certainly see it either way, and have provided for both options in my drawings. The "mate" to this chair, seen in drawing 0519.001, clearly indicates fabric; Wright's note reads "Same stuff as cushions" with an arrow to the panel.

The seat cushion could be either a loose one or an attached upholstered panel, while the inside upholstery might best be a thin foam or batting covered with fabric. Fabric is featured prominently in this project, with scarves decorating both the table and the chair, while patterned cloth portieres are shown at the doorways and carpets with randomized patterning drawn for the floors.

SDR

Laurie Virr
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Post by Laurie Virr »

‘outside in’ and Paul Harding have deservedly fine reputations as restorers of the work of Frank Lloyd Wright. The evidence from these pages is surely proof enough that their knowledge is vast, their research exemplary. It is inconceivable that offered the commission to build a chair such as that proposed, they would have accepted it. That they have both expressed major reservations regarding the project speaks volumes.

There is a world of difference between copying an existing piece of furniture, and attempting to create a chair from a poorly drafted, inaccurate, interior perspective, and a small scale plan.

It has proved difficult enough to recreate the Origami chairs, despite the fact that whilst the dimensions of the individual elements have been published, the angles of the cuts are often a matter of trial and error.

Folk touring the American System B1 house expect to see a building designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, faithfully restored. Do they really want to see a piece of furniture, never previously constructed, the provenance of the drawings of which is indeterminate, and some of the details a matter of conjecture?

If constructed, surely this chair would have to bear a label describing the above mentioned factors, and that being the case, what is the point of fabricating it?

There would appear to be a measure of desperation with regard to this project.

It is analogous to the situation in Edinburgh, Scotland, where the battle axe of Robert the Bruce is on display. Since it was last used in the early 14th century, it is attributed to have had 4 new heads and 3 new handles!

Paul Ringstrom
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Post by Paul Ringstrom »

jhealy wrote:Are there more complete/detailed architectural plans for the Stephen M.B. Hunt II residence in Oshkosh, WI. If there are such plans, would those perhaps include a chair for the dining table?

Just a thought.
I think this is worth exploring with the FLW Foundation.
Owner of the G. Curtis Yelland House (1910), by Wm. Drummond

Laurie Virr
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Post by Laurie Virr »

I consider it significant that a number of the contributors to this forum who are practicing architects, including two whose restoration credentials are beyond reproach, have raised strong objections to this project. Others, laymen, but possessed of a vast knowledge of the Architecture of Frank Lloyd Wright have also written of their disapproval.

To date, defense of this proposal, and reaction to this valid criticism, has been non-existent. Moreover, there has been neither reference to measures relating to the forestalling of the possibility of the breach of copyright legislation, nor to the provision of a suitable explanation for visitors to the American System B1 house, should this unfortunate proposal be realized. Contributions to most threads on this forum are continued until the subject is virtually exhausted, but it would appear that the proponents of this proposal have taken shelter. Why is this?

Roderick Grant makes the salient point that Frank Lloyd Wright did not persist with, or pursue, this design. That is a possible reason why the details are so scant. Its presence on the perspective was notional only.

Should this proposal proceed, may I suggest that a label be affixed to the chair, bearing the following text:

‘This chair is the result of a collaboration between two highly talented cabinet makers, one of whom is also known as a gifted designer. The latter, working primarily from a inaccurate, interior perspective drawing, having no shown dimensions and a paucity of detail, produced this design. Fabrication, by the former. is to the highest possible standard. Despite the best intentions, the concept was ill conceived, and later in life both artists regretted their involvement.’

Paul Ringstrom
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Post by Paul Ringstrom »

No matter what the opinions are on this forum, the decision on whether to construct this piece of furniture will ultimately be made by the owner of the building.

outside in
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Post by outside in »

Paul, no matter what the owner of the building decides, the decision ultimately rests in the hands of the FLW Foundation, as they hold the copyright for the work. To move ahead on a project like this without their consent would be both a legal and ethical violation.

Reidy
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Post by Reidy »

One possibility is to post easel-mounted blow-ups of the drawings you have, along with an explanation of what's missing for proper execution of the chairs.

allwrightythen1
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Post by allwrightythen1 »

Wasn't this design created prior to 1923? If so, doesn't it fall in the public domain?

lang
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Post by lang »

I also wonder if copyright protection could be afforded to a project that could not even be built without significant design alterations?

lang
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Post by lang »

"The restored house is intended to be a house museum. What is the point of putting a fake, phony chair in a museum as if it somehow existed"

If the intent was to show the chair as original to the house then yes, what is the point? I would however, venture to say that the chair would be a worthwhile exhibit if it was simply shown as, "based on a drawing by FLW". If you included documentation on its design and construction; I think it would be a very interesting piece.

Langdon

peterm
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Post by peterm »

Agreed...

I am certain that there will be no attempt to fool anyone as to the history of the design, the drawing, or the creation of the object itself.

Knowing firsthand the character and integrity of both Stephen and Stafford, there are several things of which I am confident. The scholarship will be there. The craftsmanship will be there. The history and decision making process will be transparent.

A copy of the original sketches should be made available to the viewer, along with a detailed explanation of the processes of interpreting the drawings and building of the chair.

Paul Ringstrom
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Post by Paul Ringstrom »

Copyright Information

from: http://copyright.cornell.edu/resources/publicdomain.cfm

Architectural Works
Date of Design: Prior to 1 Dec. 1990
Date of Construction: Not constructed by 31 Dec. 2002
Copyright Status: Protected only as plans or drawings

Works Registered or First Published in the U.S.
Date of Publication: Before 1923
Conditions: None
Copyright Term: None. In the public domain due to copyright expiration

This chair would seem to fall under what is called a "derivative work."

In the United States, the Copyright Act defines "derivative work" in 17 U.S.C. § 101:
A “derivative work� is a work based upon one or more preexisting works, such as a translation, musical arrangement, dramatization, fictionalization, motion picture version, sound recording, art reproduction, abridgment, condensation, or any other form in which a work may be recast, transformed, or adapted. A work consisting of editorial revisions, annotations, elaborations, or other modifications which, as a whole, represent an original work of authorship, is a “derivative work�. source: http://www.copyright.gov/circs/circ41.pdf

outside in
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Post by outside in »

I am not a legal expert, but as it was explained to me, the FLW Foundation controls the copyright for all of Wright's work, extending back to his early days at the home and studio. An organization such as the one that owns the American System-Built Homes would be obliged to ask the Foundation for permission to build one of his designs. Protection of design copyright is something that all artists and architects should be in favor of, as it ensures that construction of works based on drawings is done properly, i.e., when something is built, it truly represents the work of the artist/architect. It ensures that the proportions are correct, and both the materials and execution are done in accordance with the wishes of the designer. This chair was never meant to be built, it is an image in a marketing brochure. The designer was never able to provide the "95% perspiration" after the inspired drawing needed to bring the project to fruition. For someone else to take on the role of Wright is almost ludicrous, and I would imagine the institution that controls the copyright for the design may have a problem with that. I'm sure a lawyer could make a case and object to the Foundation's claim, but ethically its quite a different matter. As the home will be a museum, it would be far more fitting to display prints of the rendered interiors and use furniture from the period rather than create an architectural fantasy.

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