CELEBRATING FRANK LLOYD WRIGHT
“Interior Design Should be Aimed at the Richness and Humanity of Life” — Frank Lloyd Wright
By Mary Chavoustie
Birthdays may come and go, but for some, the remembrances never end. Wisconsin began 2017 with a yearlong celebration honoring the 150th anniversary of the birth of their native son, Frank Lloyd Wright, demonstrating the man that changed the way we build, live and design is far from forgotten.
The Frank Lloyd Wright Heritage Trail, a self-guided, 200-mile driving trek across southern Wisconsin, includes more than 40 Wright-designed sites, including Taliesin in Spring Green, the SC Johnson Administration Building and Research Tower constructed with 43 miles of Pyrex glass tubing in Racine, Wingspread in Wing Point and the story-filled Monona Terrace in Madison. Permanent highway trail markers were also created that will continue to guide visitors long after the celebratory year has come to an end.
And though Wright was praised for the genius of Taliesin — his 800-acre estate, home, studio and school of architecture; and Wingspread, with its “Romeo and Juliet” balcony cantilevering over the landscape, just a few of his over 1,000 projects — he was intrigued with the idea that his designs could become part of everyone’s home.
Encouraged by former “House Beautiful” editor Elizabeth Gordon, Wright partnered in 1955, at the age of 86, with five home furnishing manufacturers to produce the “Taliesin Ensemble:” A line of home furnishings for those who did not live in one of his homes. The grouping included a line of furniture designed by the architect for Heritage Henredon, a paint collection of Wright-selected colors produced by Martin-Senour Paints, fabrics and wallpaper conceived by Wright for F. Schumacher & Co. and rugs by Karastan, along with accessories by Minic.
THE WRIGHT PAINT
“The Voice of Color” program by PPG Paints™ brings colors that beg to be discovered, allowing easier decision-making for consumers in a variety of formats. PPG has even added color choices that work well for a particular style inspiration as in the architect’s color palette.
In celebration of Wright’s 150th birthday, PPG and the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation teamed to recreate the “PPG Paints Frank Lloyd Wright” color palette that is historically accurate to the original 1955 “Taliesin” color palette of 36 hues prepared for Martin-Senour Paints.
“At PPG, we find inspiration everywhere, but especially in nature, just as Wright did,” Dee Schlotter, PPG senior color marketing manager, says in a press release. “Even the colors chosen more than 60 years ago stand strong today and coordinate with modern textiles and materials, a true testament to Wright’s timeless design sense.”
PPG’s “Fallingwater®” color palette also debuted this year, featuring the colors used at Wright’s most widely acclaimed work. Western Pennsylvania Conservancy, the conservator of Fallingwater and the surrounding 1,543 acres, authenticated the Wright-inspired palette.
Since 2003, PPG Paints has partnered with Western Pennsylvania Conservancy to provide innovative coating and sealing solutions for Fallingwater, what is considered by some as the greatest architectural triumphs of the 20th century. Wright’s signature and favorite color, “Cherokee Red,” is used to coat many of the steel surfaces, while “Covered Wagon” is used for the exterior walls.
THE WRIGHT FURNITURE
In 1955, Wright designed three lines of furniture for Heritage Henredon — dining room, bedroom and living room — each stamped with his iconic signature. In fact, the entire November 1955 issue of “House Beautiful” magazine was devoted to Wright’s furniture.
Prior to the collaboration, Henredon did not produce upholstery, hence the union with Heritage, an upholstery company. Simple in nature and free of elaborate trim or hardware, the pieces often incorporated geometric combinations. Expandable sofas were featured with triangular seats, while a hexagonal coffee table fit perfectly into the room. Wright’s dining room hutch often doubled as a room divider.
Multi-purposing was a common thread, as were his ever-visible geometric designs. Unfortunately, the Heritage Henredon furniture line was unsuccessful, and production was ceased after less than two years.
THE WRIGHT FABRIC
A revival of Wright’s geometric-inspired fabric designs was also part of the historic birthday year, a collaboration of F. Schumacher & Co. and the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation. Schumacher’s original “Taliesin” line of decorative fabrics and wallpaper included designs hand drawn by Wright for the fabric house in 1955. The 2017 release highlights the original 26 designs plus new patterns,
a total of 50 products that include upholstery fabrics, sheers and decorative trims.
Creative director Dara Caponigro discovered Wright’s collection when she joined Schumacher in 2013.
“When I first laid eyes on the Frank Lloyd Wright designs in our archive three years ago, it was my dream to bring them back for everyone to enjoy. Anyone who loves design will appreciate their integrity and originality,” says Caponigro in a press release. “They have Mr. Wright’s indelible signature all over them, and marry substance and style in a thoroughly unique way.”
The fabrics, all part of Schumacher’s Applied Architecture Collection, are available only to the trade through Schumacher.
THE WRIGHT TRAVEL
Wisconsin’s welcome mat stretches far beyond this year’s birthday celebration. Travelers can access the Frank Lloyd Wright Trail app to see and learn more about the man and his works or opt to enjoy the full Frank Lloyd Wright experience with a stay in one of the architect designed homes, several of which are located in Wisconsin.
F. Schumacher & Co.
Decorative Center Houston
5120 Woodway Drive
2220 W. Alabama St.
Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation
Wisconsin Department of Tourism