Ideas from Frank Lloyd Wright's House Beautiful

Decorative Glass Windows in Frederick Robie House Living Room
Decorative Glass Windows in Frederick Robie House Living Room. Photo by Frank Lloyd Wright Preservation Trust / Archive Photos / Getty Images (cropped)
01
of 06

Furniture and Interior Design by Frank Lloyd Wright

Detail of Stained Glass Window from the Robie House by Frank Lloyd Wright
Detail of Stained Glass Window from the Robie House by Frank Lloyd Wright. Photo © Farrell Grehan/CORBIS/Corbis Historical/Getty Images (cropped)

In the early 20th century, the House Beautiful movement celebrated the beauty and meaning of everyday objects. Architects and designers like Frank Lloyd Wright believed that life could be improved through artful design. And although Wright designed furnishings for specific houses, he had no trouble with merchandising the elite's architecture to the growing mass market.

Frank Lloyd Wright wanted to give people with moderate incomes access to his house designs. He created what he called System-Built Houses and even had brochures back in 1917 to market his ideas. The Arthur L. Richards Company in Milwaukee, Wisconsin planned to manufacture and distribute a set of "American System-Built Houses" designed by Wright and to be built with preassembled parts at a factory. The precut parts would be assembled on site. The idea was to reduce the cost of expensive skilled labor, control the quality of the design, and franchise the operation for distribution. Six demonstration houses were built in a working-class Milwaukee neighborhood before the project was discontinued.

A traveling exhibition titled Frank Lloyd Wright and the House Beautiful showcased more than a hundred household items from the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation and other public and private collections. Included are textiles, furniture, glassware, and ceramics that Frank Lloyd Wright designed. Organized by International Art & Artists, Washington, D.C. in cooperation with The Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation, Frank Lloyd Wright and the House Beautiful appeared at the Portland Museum of Art and many other museums. Here is part of what was presented in 2007.

 

02
of 06

Frank Lloyd Wright's Approach to Interior Design

Decorative Glass Windows in Frederick Robie House Living Room
Decorative Glass Windows in Frederick Robie House Living Room. Photo by Frank Lloyd Wright Preservation Trust / Archive Photos / Getty Images (cropped)

The Robie House in Chicago, Illinois may be Frank Lloyd Wright's most famous house known to the casual architecture enthusiast. The exhibit Frank Lloyd Wright and the House Beautiful showcased the interior as an example of Wright's approach to interior design. These characteristics can be found in many of Wright's houses:

  • Furnishings for seating, dining, and storage are often combined
  • Many furnishings are built into the structure, leaving floorspace open
  • Expansive glass windows extend the living area to the outdoors
  • Repeated geometric shapes and patterns create a sense of ordered simplicity

Palmer House by Frank Lloyd Wright

The living area of the William and Mary Palmer House in Ann Arbor, Michigan illustrates Frank Lloyd Wright's approach to interior design. Space was a central element, and compact multi-purpose furnishings could fit into a single main living area.

Thaxter Shaw House by Frank Lloyd Wright

Unlike the cluttered rooms of the Victorian era, homes by Frank Lloyd Wright had open spaces and an orderly arrangement of furnishings. Built-in furnishings and a repetition of geometric forms gave Frank Lloyd Wright's rooms a sense of simplicity and order. Frank Lloyd Wright designed the living area for the Thaxter Shaw House, Montreal, Canada in 1906.

03
of 06

Furnishings by Frank Lloyd Wright

Colored Pencil Drawing of the Burberry Line Proposed to Heritage Henredon in 1955
Colored Pencil Drawing of the Burberry Line Proposed to Heritage Henredon in 1955. Image © Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation, Scottsdale, AZ, by permission of Portland Museum of Art (cropped)

Frank Lloyd Wright proposed the modular Burberry Line of furnishings to be used in manufactured homes. Proposed to the manufacturer Heritage Henredon in 1955, the Burberry furnishings were modular. Wright wanted residents to be able to "shape" the furnishings into configurations unique to the space. The storage case along the back wall is actually seven separate units.

Side Chair by Frank Lloyd Wright

Famous architects are often also famous for their chair designs. Frank Lloyd Wright's furniture, like his architecture, opened up space and revealed underlying skeletal forms. Wright's side chairs often have high backs that extend above the heads of the sitters. When positioned around a dining table, the chairs themselves created a temporary, intimate enclosure of space, a room within a room. The chair included in the 2007 exhibit was built in 1895 for the Frank Lloyd Wright Home and Studio,

 

04
of 06

Household by Frank Lloyd Wright

Serling Silver Covered Tureen c. 1915, Dimensions: 7 x 15 ¾ x 11
Serling Silver Covered Tureen c. 1915, Dimensions: 7 x 15 ¾ x 11. Courtesy of Tiffany & Company Archive, New York, by permission of Portland Museum of Art (cropped)

Frank Lloyd Wright was not beyond designing any household item, including this covered soup dish. But what an elegant serving dish! He designed this sterling silver covered tureen in 1915, and then Tiffany & Co. reproduced it for a larger audience. You may find all sorts of household items with a "Wrightian" look.

Hanging Lamp by Frank Lloyd Wright

Wright used clear and colored leaded glass for many of his hanging lamps, including the one exhibited in Frank Lloyd Wright and the House Beautiful. Designed in 1902 for the Susan Lawrence Dana House, the exhibited lamp was made for the dining area of the Dana–Thomas House in Springfield, Illinois. The lamps you can buy, like the lamps in the exhibit, are reproductions.

Light Screen by Frank Lloyd Wright

Wright used an abstract linear pattern and lush iridescent colors for the leaded glass screens found in the homes he designed. For example, the window panels at the Darwin D. Martin house in Buffalo, New York echo the lines found elsewhere in the 1903 room architecture.

 

05
of 06

Taliesin Line Textile by Frank Lloyd Wright

Detail of Printed Rayon and Cotton F. Schumacher Textile Design 106, Taliesin Line, 1955
Detail of Printed Rayon and Cotton F. Schumacher Textile Design 106, Taliesin Line, 1955. Courtesy of Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation, Scottsdale, AZ, by permission of Portland Museum of Art (cropped)

Repeated circles created a unifying theme in this textile design by Frank Lloyd Wright. The fabric is rayon and cotton. Wright wanted to create a unified aesthetic design that included every detail in the home. His textile designs echoed the shapes found elsewhere in the room. Wright designed this rayon and cotton textile for F. Schumacher's Taliesin Line in 1955.

Carpet Design by Frank Lloyd Wright

Wright's love for rich patterning is expressed in the carpets he designed. Wright designed the carpet exhibited in Frank Lloyd Wright and the House Beautiful for the carpet manufacturer Karastan in 1955. It was to be included in the Taliesin line of household products, but carpets were never added to the Taliesin line.

06
of 06

Taliesin Line Textile by Frank Lloyd Wright

Detail of Printed Cotton F. Schumacher Textile, Design 107, Taliesin Line, 1957
Detail of Printed Cotton F. Schumacher Textile, Design 107, Taliesin Line, 1957. Courtesy of Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation, Scottsdale, AZ, by permission of Portland Museum of Art (cropped)

The vertical and horizontal lines in Frank Lloyd Wright's textiles echoed the structure of the houses he designed. You will notice the same geometric patterns throughout Frank Lloyd Wright's houses. The strong lines are repeated in carpets, furniture upholstery, leaded glass screens, chair designs, and the essential structure of the building. Frank Lloyd Wright designed this textile for F. Schumacher's Taliesin Line in 1957. Wright designed many fabrics for the "Taliesin Line" projects.

Learn More:

  • Architecture after the Architect Leaves
  • Frank Lloyd Wright & The House Beautiful, The Catalog by Virginia Terry Boyd, International Arts & Artists, 2005
    Buy on Amazon
  • Frank Lloyd Wright's House Beautiful by Diane Maddex, 2000
    Buy on Amazon
Format
mla apa chicago
Your Citation
Craven, Jackie. "Ideas from Frank Lloyd Wright's House Beautiful." ThoughtCo, Mar. 3, 2017, thoughtco.com/an-exhibition-of-frank-lloyd-wright-and-the-house-beautiful-4065261. Craven, Jackie. (2017, March 3). Ideas from Frank Lloyd Wright's House Beautiful. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/an-exhibition-of-frank-lloyd-wright-and-the-house-beautiful-4065261 Craven, Jackie. "Ideas from Frank Lloyd Wright's House Beautiful." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/an-exhibition-of-frank-lloyd-wright-and-the-house-beautiful-4065261 (accessed November 23, 2017).