Most of the 5,000 plus wonderful rooms designed by Frank Lloyd Wright are not open to the public. Even if you could go behind those doors, you often would find that the original furnishings have been moved, replaced, or lost. This book gives you a chance to go where you often cannot go in any other way to see the best original details of furnishings in 50 of the best. Unlike most architects, Mr. Wright designed in such a way that "the rooms inside would dictate the architecture outside." Even inside, he designed all elements of the room, including floor and wall coverings, art glass in many cases, lighting fixtures, furniture, and where everything should be located. He also specified that those who used the rooms should be limited to bringing in only certain types of objects, and for certain locations. For example, ornamental china was allowed on one ledge of the dining room in Robie House.
In working on furnishings, he had a lot of help. Marion Mahoney often finished his designs for furniture and art glass, and saw them through implementation. George Niedecken was often called upon to execute conceptual designs of furniture. Artists helped with sculptures and murals. Artisans crafted many of the items that Mr. Wright sketched.
The furnishings were never meant to be considered separately from the buildings and rooms they were to reside in. Yet this volume can help you appreciate these details that are often tiny in photographs of entire rooms.
I have had the chance to visit many Wright homes and buildings, yet this book greatly expanded my understanding of his work.
This book is primarily focused on furniture, but has a number of important art glass and decorative arts examples.
Mr. Wright designed what have to be the most elegant, minimal chairs . . . and the ones that were probably the most painful to sit in. I had a hard time appreciating the design while thinking about how impractical they are. Well, every genius has limitations . . . and chairs were that for Mr. Wright.
My favorite furniture examples in the book were the print table from the Oak Park house, Robie winged sofa, Coonley desk, and the Johnson Wax desk. Of the art glass, I liked the Roberts window, the Luxfer prism glass, Thomas vestibule, Dana windows, and the Tree of Life window. In the decorative pieces, I enjoyed the pedestal and butterfly lamps, and the glass-faced "golden" mortar.
As you will see from the examples, each one loses a lot by being seen in isolation from the rest of the room. Ms. Maddex does a nice job of describing each item or ensemble in a half-page essay covering the 50 subjects here.
The photography is superb in the 67 illustrations, including 64 full color plates. That's quite important because you will not usually be allowed to photograph these objects, even if you do have the good fortune to see them in a Wright home or public building.
After you finish examining the items you like best, I suggest that you think about what qualities furnishings must have in order to improve the quality of your life. How well does your best furnishing do so now? How can you make that furnishing ease your way into natural living even better?
Relax . . . then, see, touch, and enjoy the beauty all around you!