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Tracing the designs of 4 basic chairs
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peterm



Joined: 13 Mar 2008
Posts: 6106
Location: Chicago, Il.---Oskaloosa, Ia.

PostPosted: Tue Jan 13, 2009 1:55 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

i agree with you that the van patten living room furniture is certainly an anomaly in schindler's oeuvre. the dining chairs and table, however, are more what we normally equate with his furniture, rectilinear, angular, and very similar to usonian pieces. i just can't find any photos online, but they are in the schindler furniture book. the reason for bringing it up was the plywood material choice.

the hanna chairs are crazy. do any of these exist? the easy chair is definitely a predecessor to the later easy or origami. the dining chairs remind me of some of the early austrian secession pieces, but more gravity defying.

as for the schindler sardi's chairs, they were manufactured using the same aluminum and rubber that warren macarthur used. but in true schindler fashion, he used macarthur's rubber floor glides as padding for the arm rests. he could use the most commonplace materials in such unexpected ways.
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SDR



Joined: 17 Jun 2006
Posts: 18279
Location: San Francisco

PostPosted: Tue Jan 13, 2009 12:18 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I unaccountably gave away my copy of the Schindler furniture book. Now Amazon says "not available." Oops. My main library doesn't have it either.

There are a few interesting plywood chairs and tables in the two big Schindler books.

The Hanna furniture drawing is a mystery. Note the lettering, which looks suspiciously like Leroy -- or even computer-drawn -- and the varying line weight. It just doesn't look like a Taliesin drawing to me, but it probably is; there is a reference to it in the text which follows (below). It apparently dates from 1957 or '58.

I was referring to Sardi's in general -- I had forgotten what the furniture was like. Thanks for that.

SDR
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SDR



Joined: 17 Jun 2006
Posts: 18279
Location: San Francisco

PostPosted: Tue Jan 13, 2009 12:36 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

This is the bulk of the text in Appendix One, "Furnishing Our Home," in the Hanna book. Oddly, there seems to be no reference to the dining chairs
shown above. And what's with Wright "forever trying to get us to discard the two big Wright-designed chairs" ?



We moved into an almost empty house in late autumn of 1937 and started to furnish it. As indicated earlier, very little furniture came with us from
our rented house. With Mr. Wright's built-ins and these few odd pieces we managed to live for several months. Finally, the furniture maker in San
Francisco completed our order, and we happily arranged and rerrranged our two large, Wright-designed reading chairs, three hassocks, and three
floor cushions. We had a splendid, heavy hexagonal redwood table made by our carpenters, which served as the children's playroom table and also
as dining table for our family of five.

In 1947, while Paul was on duty in the Panama Canal Zone, he purchased a pile of discarded hardwood lying under a schoolhouse and shipped it to
San Francisco via ocean freighter. When planed, the old planks proved to be beautiful Honduras mahogany, which we made into a banquet table in
a hexagonal pattern, designed by Paul and approved by Mr. Wright. Finally we had a table of an appropriate size for our spacious dining room,
the former playroom. With the addition or subtraction of table leaves, we could seat from six to thirty-six people. In Denmark we finally found the
perfect dining chair. With Mr. Wright's approval, we acquired twenty-four teak chairs, with sea-rush or leather seats.

This may be a good point at which to say something about our response to Wright-designed furniture. We happen to like what Mr. Wright did for
us. What did Mr. Wright think about his furniture? He was forever trying to get us to discard the two big Wright-designed chairs. On one occasion,
visiting us, he said, "I have been in this business sixty years and I still can't design a piece of furniture. I don't understand my problem. I
suppose I think too much in terms of a building and I wind up with that!"-poking with his cane the side of one of our reading chairs.

It is not true that Mr. Wright permitted only his own furniture in houses he designed. He admired the coffee table Paul designed and made from
redwood burl. We brought back from the Orient a number of pieces of teak furniture, everyone of which Mr. Wright approved.

After remodeling the main house in 1957, we asked Mr. Wright to design some low chairs for our living room, chairs suitable for short-legged
people. We suggested that he modify a round chair he had designed for his son David's house, using the hexagon geometry rather than the circle.
And he did. We think the handsome back, the shape of the seat, and the sloping arms all attractive. But chairs for short-legged people? Any six-
foot-three, 250-pound guest would immediately choose one of the low chairs.

The library provides areas for reading, desk work, chatting, eating, or viewing the fireplace or the garden. Two Swan chairs from Denmark offer
seating for viewing the garden and the pool cascade, or for reading. Two Danish "Egg" chairs together with the cushioned couch and a large
Wrightdesigned reading chair form a semicircle for conversation by the fire or for viewing television. Tables can be set up for light meals by the
fire.

Between the two working desks, attached to the ceiling, is a set of large roller-maps (we preferred to have them roll down from the ceiling rather
than take up precious wall space). A sixteen-inch world globe with counterweight is suspended over one desk.

Fireplace tools, designed by Mr. Wright, hang at the side of the library fireplace. Against the east glass wall of the library is a bank of counters
on which are the duplicator and an assortment of magazines. Below the counter tops are two-drawer filing cabinets, metal retracting mechanisms
for the electric typewriter, calculator, transcriber, and other office equipment.

Throughout the house, most night lighting is provided by flood lamps in the decks or ceiling lights recessed in metal boxes behind
Czechoslovakian glass. At locations where reading light must supplement deck or ceiling light, floor or table lamps are used. The house has over
two hundred electrical outlets, switches, or other terminals, which make electrical current easily available everywhere.

In 1953 we replaced the linen Klearflax rugs with Woolturf carpeting. We followed Mr. Wright's original pattern, which allowed the hexagonal
concrete tiles to show around the carpet perimeters in entry and living room. We chose color contrasts as in the original carpets, but used off-
white and beige color contrasts. (This change pleased some of our Stanford alumni friends, who felt the original blue and gold-the colors of
the University of California-somewhat disloyal.) Woolturf was very expensive but easier to maintain than the Klearflax and much more
resistant to wear. The Woolturf was stilI in very good condition in 1976.
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peterm



Joined: 13 Mar 2008
Posts: 6106
Location: Chicago, Il.---Oskaloosa, Ia.

PostPosted: Tue Jan 13, 2009 1:42 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

these letters show that wright is anything but arrogant or inflexible. maybe he had his pre-andy warhol public persona, and only revealed himself to his favorite clients and friends.

so your photo of hanna shows the earliest chairs and table. is there a date attached to the photo?

the letters also reveal what seemed to be a pattern with many usonian homeowners, and that is that they would furnish with a mixture of danish modern, wright pieces, homemade pieces, and a few souvenirs from their travels.

there is a certain refinement in this eclectic approach of the original owners which sometimes is lacking in the "museum perfect" decor in many wright houses today.
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SDR



Joined: 17 Jun 2006
Posts: 18279
Location: San Francisco

PostPosted: Tue Jan 13, 2009 3:13 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

No date. According to the text, the photo would have to be pre-1947. The dining chairs are not included in that short list of pieces Wright designed
initially for the house -- but there they are in the photo. Wish I knew who the "furniture maker in San Francisco" was. . .

SDR
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Palli Davis Holubar



Joined: 27 Feb 2006
Posts: 1036
Location: Wakeman, Ohio

PostPosted: Tue Jan 13, 2009 5:41 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

SDR- call Sapna Marfatia, Director of the Hanna House. There are probably records about the set. She can have the archivist research it for you or suggest you come. Another longer route or if you want to fill out the picture once you have a name is find out if the Public Library has City Directories for 1947 forward. You might get some impressions by viewing the addresses and/or advertisements. Another long shot might be to call the University and find out if they have personnel records for the woodshop in the Buildings and Grounds Department, There might be a common name or something on file about the free-lance work of a trusted and skilled employee.
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SDR



Joined: 17 Jun 2006
Posts: 18279
Location: San Francisco

PostPosted: Tue Jan 13, 2009 7:23 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks Palli.

To begin somewhere, I'm going to post some images of slant-back chairs, with related texts. The chairs are from five structures: the Little house,
Wright's own home, the Hillside Home School, the Larkin building and the Robie house.

SDR
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SDR



Joined: 17 Jun 2006
Posts: 18279
Location: San Francisco

PostPosted: Tue Jan 13, 2009 8:41 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Text from Diane Maddex, "50 Favorite Furnishings of FLLW"

Wright home, Oak Park

from the Domino's Collection, text by David A Hanks

Larkin Building
collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York





Text and caption by David A Hanks and Jennifer Toher, in exhibit catalog, Fischer Fine Art, London, 1985



Domino's collection, ibid

Robie House, photo by Thomas A Heinz




Two pages 1966, Committee of Architectural Heritage, University of Illinois
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SDR



Joined: 17 Jun 2006
Posts: 18279
Location: San Francisco

PostPosted: Tue Jan 13, 2009 8:58 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Oh drat -- this isn't even on Palli's list. Back to the scanner. . .!


SDR
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Palli Davis Holubar



Joined: 27 Feb 2006
Posts: 1036
Location: Wakeman, Ohio

PostPosted: Tue Jan 13, 2009 9:41 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

My list was off the top of my head... I'm stealing your images and some of mine to start a "family tree". These are important. My ? is: are spindle straight back chair and the panel slant back chair contemporaneous?
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SDR



Joined: 17 Jun 2006
Posts: 18279
Location: San Francisco

PostPosted: Tue Jan 13, 2009 11:02 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Yes, definitely. They, and the cube chair, were all going on at the same time. I'll do the spindle next, then the cube, shall I ?

I'm initially surprised at the limited variation in the slant-backs here. There were also straight-back panel chairs, usually upholstered. There's even a
steel straight side chair (the back is actually slanted) from Larkin.

SDR
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peterm



Joined: 13 Mar 2008
Posts: 6106
Location: Chicago, Il.---Oskaloosa, Ia.

PostPosted: Tue Jan 13, 2009 11:32 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

thank you, sdr! this is where it all begins, de stijl, usonian chairs, plywood chairs. the idea of the flat back plane continuing below the seat, this is what rietveld was riffing on. the simple cutout handle: not quite a perf, palli, but oh so modern!

red blue:


http://www.chairblog.eu/wp-content/uploads/2007/05/red-blue-rietveld-chair.jpg
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SDR



Joined: 17 Jun 2006
Posts: 18279
Location: San Francisco

PostPosted: Tue Jan 13, 2009 11:44 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Here are two more of Diane Maddexes chair texts.



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SDR



Joined: 17 Jun 2006
Posts: 18279
Location: San Francisco

PostPosted: Wed Jan 14, 2009 12:16 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

These illustrations are part of the Hanks/Toher essay sampled in the picture-post above. Certain things were in the air, it seems.







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Wrightgeek



Joined: 07 Jan 2005
Posts: 1548
Location: Westerville, Ohio

PostPosted: Wed Jan 14, 2009 12:40 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

That last group of historical chair photos is fantastic, SDR. Thanks for sharing, and keep them coming, please. Be careful not to burn up that scanner, though.
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