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chairs. So the two companies worked together. And then Drexel [Furniture Company] bought Heritage, and that split them up. But the president of Henredon, Henry Wilson, was awfully nice and a great admirer of Mr. Wright.
He and his wife came here often. Mr. Wright designed a house for them. They didn't build it, but-- That was a very happy marriage until the company split up. But the trouble with the product was that the stores didn't know
what to do with it. They didn't know whether it was traditional or modern. They didn't know what buyer to send to the show. And when it got, then, to the store, it wasn't shown together. The bedroom things went to the
bedroom department and dining tables in the dining and so on. And things like the wooden vases never got anywhere near the furniture. It never was shown the way he intended it to be. He thought of it as a way to take a
perfectly ordinary apartment and line it with some architectural feeling. So it was successful but short-lived because of the splitup of the companies."
it was like to work with them, for example, in Pace Setter houses or houses you featured?"
"Well, Al was very energetic starting out, and he was a great experimenter on his own. He had a good imagination. There again, he was an attractive person, so he got along wonderfully with Elizabeth and the decorating staff
and enjoyed it all. It was very easy to work with him, to get included in what he was doing, things that we could use, and occasionally getting products that we wanted to talk about and that sort of thing in there. He was
particularly adaptable. In the case of Aaron, I don't think we ever did anything except things that were already completed of his. But of course, I was always looking to people who had been here to watch over what they
were doing, and he was one of the best. Fay Jones I'm trying to remember. I knew him because he had been here [at Taliesin]. I don't remember what it was that we showed of his first, but it must have been a small house; he
hadn't done any really big things yet. But he was good and certainly showed promise as somebody you could recommend and feel that you weren't getting somebody into trouble. And you know that he was-- Wal-Mart started
because he [Sam Walton] was a client and building a house. And they had a store. I think they had two stores down there in Arkansas, and the house began to be more costly, so he opened another store." [laughs]
"I didn't know that story." [laughs]
"Yeah, that's what got him going until--" [laughs]
"Did you hope to boost these architects' careers by giving them attention?"
"Oh, yeah, yeah. That was a very purposeful-- Actually, that was probably the reason, say, for showing something of Fay Jones's, although it was far better than something else that we could find. And no, I guess it worked
both ways. But the notion that a reader would go to that professional was always-- You had to remember that and not pick somebody who was going to-- There were some rather good designers in that period who were so
difficult to get along with that they almost inevitably had client trouble, and I stayed away from them."
"The whole thing of getting into it so deep was totally hers. I would have thought it was impossible. It was a word that I'd heard because Mr. [Frank Lloyd] Wright used it to refer to Taliesin here [Wisconsin] as opposed to the
desert camp [Taliesin West, Arizona], which he considered barbaric. It's a Japanese term that they use for the very highest aesthetic level of a certain kind. It means bitter, and it means aristocratic, and it means weathered. The
kind of beauty that comes from aging and that would be in a half-dead cherry tree, say, where the old and the dead and the living are still there. It's sad and beautiful and very understated. It's not a term that the rest of
the world has. We know clearly they have four categories. Shibui would be this highest level, and that would include things that are beautiful due to their age or due to their subtlety or extreme simplicity or-- Tea ceremony
things would be shibui. Then the hade. What they've exported to America always is the Christmas ornament type of beauty, the real gaudy, very colorful, bright-colored, party kind of thing. Iki is like chic almost exactly--
stylish, beautiful, elegant. Jimi is good but dull. It's never exciting. It's the kind of fabric that older people would wear, that sort of thing. But those four categories pretty well cover the possibilities. In any of them it can reach a
fairly high artistic level, but the serious one is the shibui. And I think there's a shibui show or something like that. Anyway, we tried hard in the Japanese issues to explain these. And I have no idea. A lot of the people just made fun
of the word because it sounded funny. It's a rather explosive sound that doesn't really go with what it means."
"This is the organic thing. I think, for instance, with a few exceptions, nothing of Mr. Wright's is dated. It's a timeless sort of stuff. It's as interesting now as it was when it was new. Some of it is dated by the
materials that were prevalent at the time or something, but still, it escaped being fads or styles or anything like that. And I think it's because he was basically an artist. He was interested in beauty first--beauty of living and
freedom and joy, everything in nature. That was his motivation, and the fact that he happened to be an astonishing engineer and that he happened to be a genius was along with it. [laughs] But there were so many things that he
simply knew without having to read them or be told. And this was, of course, something you had to take into account with him. He didn't have to explain anything. Clients didn't have to-- They'd talk far too much to him beyond
what they needed. He knew what was going to be right for them. Sometimes he didn't take into account that they couldn't possibly finance it. But he wasn't extravagant. He thought things shouldn't be expensive. That's all." [laughs]
"One more tough question: What's your favorite Frank Lloyd Wright building?"
"This one. Taliesin."
"Well, there's so much of him in it. It's so extensive that you can't get bored with it. You know? And it's a feeling that it's still ongoing, that it's still got to be finished someday. [laughs] It's not a frozen thing from the past
somewhere. It's like a person. It's got all kinds of faults that you take into account and sort of love it for because it makes it more interesting. And you pay a price to enjoy it. I mean, it's not always comfortable, and it's a terrible
job to keep it shiny and really in proper use. But it's just-- It really is designed for the soul and for the emotions. And it's just wonderfully comforting. I don't know how else to explain it. It isn't even always beautiful.
This room I don't consider beautiful. It's very makeshift and just bare minimum, but I love it. It's a wonderful place to be. [laughs] It's-- Well, it's-- I don't know. I still remember the chill of seeing it for the first time as a boy.
I just had no idea that there was such a thing outside of someplace I'd never been, someplace in England or someplace in Greece or something. But of course, there are many of the buildings that I think are wonderful. But it's
like saying what's your favorite piece of music or something. This is the one I want to live in."
House Beautiful and work with Elizabeth Gordon and others, private work and contacts in many trades, his return to Taliesin, his marriage and the birth
and too-brief life of a son, his travels with the group to Europe after Wright's death, his views of the community in the decades following 1959---and many