ArchDaily informs us of a 90-minute virtual mini-symposium using Frank Lloyd Wright’s philosophy of organic architecture as a starting point for contemporary discussions, seeking to explore sustainability through the lens of what might be considered organic. By bringing together leading practitioners, educators, scholars, and students, the hope is to advance more comprehensive and effective theories and practices that will secure an enduring future for the planet while envisioning a built environment that nurtures and ennobles the human condition. The organizer for this event is Fallingwater. More info here.
Legendary textile designer, author, and mentor Jack Lenor Larsen died peacefully on Dec. 22 of natural causes. He was 93. His career as a textile designer began in the early 1950s when he founded his studio, Jack Lenor Larsen Inc., in New York City. His influence on mid century modern design and textiles is distinguished by his passion for natural yarns, his appropriation and preservation of Asian, African, and indigenous patterns and techniques, and his aesthetic innovations.
Among Larsen’s notable early commissions was the design of lobby draperies for Skidmore, Owings & Merrill’s Lever House (1951-1952). Frank Lloyd Wright also used Larsen fabrics at both Taliesin and Fallingwater. Eero Saarinen commissioned Larsen fabrics for his J. Irwin Miller House, and Larsen was on the committee that selected architect Edward Larrabee Barnes for the Haystack Mountain School of Crafts. Other architect collaborators included Hugh Hardy, I. M. Pei, and Louis Kahn (whom he also taught to weave).
Larsen is also one of only four Americans to have been honored with an exhibition at the Palais du Louvre in Paris as well as with a solo exhibition at the Museum of Arts and Design in New York in 2004. Larsen fabrics reside in the permanent collections of The Metropolitan Museum of Art, MoMA, The Minneapolis Institute of Arts, The Art Institute of Chicago, and The Victoria & Albert Museum, to name just a few. Read more about this talented designer's life and accomplishments here.
IPWatchdog has a 2020 update on the most iconic and patented toys and games of all time. On this list is one of our personal favorites.
From 1916 to 1917, John Lloyd Wright was in Japan working with his father, famed American architect Frank Lloyd Wright, on constructing the Imperial Hotel in Tokyo, Japan. While the family relationship quickly soured, the junior Wright’s exposure to earthquake-resistant forms of building architecture gave him the idea for one of the most iconic toys ever: Lincoln Logs. Upon his return to America, John Lloyd Wright began marketing Lincoln Logs through his Red Square Toy Company and since that time the toy cabin building blocks have become a treasured piece of Americana. Wright even came out with an updated block configuration by the 1930s which he called Wright Blocks, but that product never became the commercial success that Lincoln Logs were. Read more about this nostalgic list here.
According to Variety (and news we previously shared a few months back), one of the Windy City’s Wright plums still ripe for the picking — at $2.2 million — is the Isidore Heller House, a Prairie-style residence in the leafy Hyde Park community on the shore of Lake Michigan about seven miles south of the downtown Loop. Home to the prestigious University of Chicago, Hyde Park has long attracted influential movers and shakers: Muhammad Ali, Saul Bellow, Hugh Hefner and Barack and Michelle Obama among them.
Commissioned by Austrian immigrant Isidore Heller, completed in 1897, and composed of yellow Roman brick with rows of imaginatively trimmed windows, the nearly 6,100-square-foot villa stands three stories tall along a tree-canopied street lined with other carefully maintained historic homes.
A designated National Historic Landmark, the seven-bedroom and five-bath spread retains oodles of Lloyd Wright hallmarks — generously proportioned rooms, geometric stained-glass windows and scads of bespoke oak detailing. A trio of stone-carved quatrefoils top sturdy stone columns with intricately carved capitals that frame the front entrance; a Beaux-Arts frieze on the third-floor façade was created by sculptor Richard Bock.
Designed for family living and relaxed entertaining, the comprehensively restored and carefully updated home has four fireplaces, plus modern heating and cooling systems and a reconditioned elevator that services all floors. The kitchen is equipped with modern conveniences (not to mention four separate pantries!); the basement is large enough that the current owners’ children played basketball in it; and the grassy yard offers sun-dappled lawns and shaded terraces.
The property is available through Diane Silverman of @properties. See it here.
In the last few issues of the Wright Society Newsletter for 2020 we're going to highlight some of the Wright-related organizations that you might want to consider donating to with your end-of-year gift giving.
In the last issue we highlighted the Frank Lloyd Wright organizations in Buffalo, NY. While all the non-profit Wright organizations are deserving of your support, we don't have the ability to spotlight them all before the curtain falls on 2020. So, in this last issue of the Wright Society Newsletter for 2020, we shine the light on Frank Lloyd Wright's Hollyhock House.
Hollyhock House, a UNESCO World Heritage site, was commissioned by Aline Barnsdall and designed by Frank Lloyd Wright. The project was also the proving ground for the early careers of Wright’s assistant, RM Schindler, and Wright’s son Lloyd Wright, as they oversaw the completion of the project in 1921.
Hollyhock House’s innovative plan and bold aesthetic were catalysts for the modern California architecture movement. Schindler and Lloyd Wright both became influential design pioneers and inspired other notable figures to establish their architecture practices in Los Angeles, including Richard Neutra, Gregory Ain, and John Lautner.
In 1963, Hollyhock House was recognized as a Historic-Cultural Monument by the City of Los Angeles. In 1971, the building was listed in the National Register of Historic Places. The United States Department of the Interior designated Hollyhock House a National Historic Landmark in 2007. In 2019, Hollyhock House was inscribed as the first UNESCO World Heritage Site in Los Angeles. It is one of eight seminal Wright buildings that were collectively recognized as UNESCO’s first modern architecture designation in the United States. Hollyhock House joins Yosemite National Park and Redwood National and State Parks as the third site in California with the distinguished UNESCO status.
Hollyhock House enjoys tremendous community support. Each year, nearly 100 passionate and insightful volunteer docents contribute thousands of hours of service to the mission of sharing the home’s vibrant history and alluring architectural features with more than 43,000 annual visitors. Consider donating to help continue the Barnsdall Art Park Foundation continue to preserve the architectural treasure that is Hollyhock House. More info here.