Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Frank Freaks Year in Review


Frank Lloyd Wright Home

It's been a dream year for us 'Frank Freaks' as my sister Cathy, niece Jess and I travelled and toured three big Frank Lloyd Wright sites in the past 12 months.  The first trip was intentionally planned as my sister's 50th birthday trip and research for my business to Fallingwater in Pennsylvania, the amazing home built over a waterfall for the Kaufmann family celebrating it's 75th Anniversary. It was a beautiful October day we visited and took the morning tour.  My intent was to study his use of geometric shapes in design, how he used native materials in the construction, how he blended interior design elements and of course, to spent a lot of money in the gift shop in the name of research and leave samples of my cards with the gift shop manager.  Kentuck Knob was also on the agenda that day and did not disappoint.

Taliesin West
Then in Spring when the usual mid May date for touring Frank Lloyd Wright's home in Chicago was moved to June due to the G8 Summit and now didn't interfere with my Surtex trade show in New York, trip two seemed like destiny. Jess and I drove down from Minneapolis to eastern Iowa and Cathy drove us to Chicago.  Again it was a beautiful June day of touring Frank's home, other Oak Park homes he designed, Robie House and Unity Temple.  You really have to experience Frank's use of space in the buildings to understand the transition from walking thru a narrow hallway into a grand large space like the children's playroom in his home or the Unity Temple sanctuary. It really takes your breath away.  I observed how he used geometric shapes to create abstract nature elements, looked for unifying home interior motifs, use of textiles, rugs and color palettes.  I really enjoyed seeing how families living in FLWright homes adapted today's technology with historic architecture. Usually it was the kitchen that had the biggest makeover and had to blend with the rest of the house.

It was a sad family event that brought us together unexpectedly for our last trip.  My dear Aunt Ronnie passed away and our family made plans to fly out to Arizona to attend her memorial and celebration of life. Before gathering with family,Cathy, Jess and I drove up to Taliesin West near Phoenix to tour Wright's winter home and architecture school.  It was early October and the students of Taliesin at Spring Green, Wisconsin had not returned yet for winter.  Our three hour tour was the best of all the tours we had taken. We met architects who live there and had worked with Frank and gave us insight that regular tour guides can't.  There were many buildings to tour and experience.  Again, local stone was used in the construction to make the buildings part of the environment they occupied.  The hexagon shape was prevalent in the design and there was lots of art incorporated both inside and outside the buildings.  Taliesin West celebrated its 75th Anniversary milestone this year and meant another trip to the gift shop.

I gathered a lot of research and inspiration on these trips and know it will influence how I see nature and how it will influence my work.  There is something in the clean lines, earthy palettes, use of natural materials that feels very contemporary to me.  Frank used nature as his model which never goes out of style. I thank my 'Frank Freaks' traveling partners, Cathy and Jess, for a wonderful year of exploring Frank Lloyd Wright sites.