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one (modernist) designer. So, what's special about Wright when it comes to furnishing one of his buildings ?
Well, he's not just a credible modernist architect -- there are many of those. He's the American modern architect who, more than any other, populated
(and attempted to populate) his buildings with furnishings of his own design, thereby implying (and indeed, on occasion, stating) that in his mind his
furniture is more in keeping with his architecture than anyone else's could be.
Not that this is a world-shaking or unheard-of position -- it's just that Wright was somewhat more consistent in his performance here than others
were, and that he had quite a long career in which to carry out his program.
Those who come to Wright, today, are perhaps more likely to be informed about modernism, and thus to be more inclined to favor it in their
environment when given the choice -- because, once begun on the trip toward understanding art and design, its history and its progress, one is
likely to see modernism as the desirable conclusion (for the time being, anyway) to that history and thus preferable, all other things being equal, to any
previous "style" or mode.
So far so good. Then, there are the other components of the matter: spousal input, for instance. There's no law of nature that requires both
members of a partnership to have like opinions on every aspect of their lives, including how they want to live and what they're comfortable living
I don't think that Wright's Usonians are too restrictive as to what seems to work within, aesthetically. We've seen Eames plywood dining chairs, as an
early example (Pew, Rosenbaum); we've seen Nakashima dining furniture, case pieces, and seating. It's even possible that home-made or generic
plain wood furniture has a place -- as that description loosely fits Wright's own pieces, with their exposed plywood edges, unembellished board shelves
and button-knobbed cabinetry.
And many Wright owners have introduced their own collections of decorative and functional objects. Perhaps the worst that could be said is that these
interiors have a way of honing one's preferences, of suggesting that some objects are more worthy -- more natural, simpler, more honest in their
craftsmanship and more sympathetic in their patterns or textures -- than others, leading sensitive owners to self-edit . . . one can hope. It happens in
some homes more than in others -- again, quite naturally.
Ca. 1900 many homes had print tables for just this purpose, and Wright did several himself. The user would keep the prints in a collapsable table and take them out to enjoy them. The Japanese had a longer tradition of keeping their artwork in closed alcoves or in storage, rotating them in and out of the house.
you do) the temporary display of a select picture ?
I wonder if the use of a display easel is common in the home, anywhere in the world. But there's nothing to keep a Usonian owner from putting a small nail
into the joint between the board and the sunk batten -- or wedging a small block into a deeply-raked brick bed joint -- from which to hang a picture. A
small nail hole is less noticeable in a wooden wall than in a plaster one . . .
"Naked" photos of Wright interiors show up, from time to time: I just came across eight color photos of the Millard residence (La Miniatura) in Weintraub's Lloyd Wright monograph. I would guess he came to the house when it was between owners . . .
Most modernist interiors are visually neutral...gray, white, beige planes with large glass screens. Their interiors are not bristling with ordered regular patterns (boards and battens, panelized or directional board ceilings, deep red gridded floors) built-in furniture, or projected planes or surfaces. Most modernist interiors can accept a wide variety of objects because they are often as neutral as a museum gallery. Wright's interiors are not neutral, they are figural; they are themselves compositions rather than neutral containers. That is why they look good "naked" while other houses just look empty. Adding to a composition is tricky.
Wright's furniture is of a piece with his respective interiors. Even Wright of different periods can be odd to the eye in a given Wright interior. Pieces not of the house need to at least harmonize with it in a meaningful way and not try to strike out in too different a direction.
While FLW went the full Monty on his clients' behalf, remember that in his own living room in Wisc., there are department store chairs with Queen Anne feet.
I'll be satisfied with the rest" . . .
It's a relief to have at least one Wright devotee on record as preferring the empty room. I agree with DRN that the "figural" interiors of Wright's houses
call for restraint; what would you add to a virtually complete painting by a master ? "Nothing" is the right answer, it could be argued. Wright provided a
seat, a fire, a kitchen, a bath, and beds. Sometimes, bookshelves. Take it -- or not -- from there ?
with identical materials and details, inside and out -- weren't enough, Wright contemplated a patterned board ceiling,
mitered at its corners, and figured perforated-board clerestories, on paper, before these were replaced before construction
by a plywood ceiling and plain glass throughout.
Alan Weintraub caught the house at an interesting moment. Published in 2007, in "FLW-MCM," the interior is so carefully curated as to appear monochromatic.
One forgets that the glazed clerestory band extends more than three-quarters of the way around the room. And, looking toward the bedroom "tail," one would almost forget that it is there . . .
Ã‚Â© Balthazar Korab
And for our autophiles, there's THE photo, with XKE.
Then this visual treat; there's your figuration, plus juicy materiality ! Futagawa makes do -- almost -- with available light.
Ã‚Â© Yukio Futagawa
formal design. In photos, at least, I prefer these houses to the carefully-crafted and more "finished" ones of the 'fifties.
Baird represents another example of this "crude" brickwork.
Like G-W, Lewis is built of Chicago Common brick, and likewise has essentially unraked mortar. Perhaps the "soft" and irregular edges of this brick wouldn't lend themselves to a deeply raked bed joint ?
Ã‚Â© Futagawa, early 'nineties.