Thursday, June 14, 2012

Going the Wright Way

Frank Lloyd Wright home and studio in Oak Park, Chicago
We have a new nickname, "Frank Freaks" following our latest Frank Lloyd Wright adventure.  My sister Cathy, niece Jessie and I are racking up visits to Frank Lloyd Wright's homes and buildings.  It started with Taliesin in Wisconsin, then Cedar Rock & Stockman House in Iowa, and Kentuck Knob and Fallingwater in Pennsylvania.  June 2nd, we drove to Chicago for the annual Wright tours of his home/studio in Oak Park, Unity Temple and Robie House.

Left to right: me, Cathy & Jess
We're starting to anticipate his architectural tricks of small low hallways opening up to a grand high ceiling light filled room.  Never was this better than in his home with the children's playroom and in Unity Temple when you entered the main temple. It's something you have to experience for yourself to truly understand.

The use of wood, glass, rock, and metal in its natural form and in earthy colors and geometric shapes resonates with me. I like the fact this style was born here and feels like home unlike other architectural styles that borrow from other periods in history.

As an illustrator and surface designer, I was looking for clues about the textiles in the homes and motifs that complimented the Arts & Crafts style.  The Robie House tour guide mentioned George Mann Niedecken's rug designs were motifs based on the house's unique floor plan print.  Upon further research, George worked on 12  of Wright's commissions. I hope to learn more about his work and how he integrated it with the prairie style architecture.

We also toured a few Wright homes in Oak Park that are not museum pieces but occupied homes.  The most interesting to me was seeing how families integrated the past with contemporary living.  Most often it was the kitchen that had to be updated and yet flow smoothly from other parts of the original home.  Of course, we couldn't take pictures, but the best ones used natural wood, stone, metal with modern appliances.  I would imagine what rugs, table runners, art prints, and pillows I could design for these homes.

So it's back to the studio to take all this inspiration, stir it around and see how I can illustrate and design pieces for my own pattern designs for todays' homes.