As the 2017 International Furnishings and Design Association Educational Foundation's (IFDA EF) recipient of the Valerie Moran Grant, I was funded to visit a number of historic, 20th century properties, to experience great exterior and interior design first hand, and in turn, pass along what I learned to my clients' projects.
In October of 2017, I visited two iconic Frank Lloyd Wright homes in greater Buffalo, New York. The Martin House Complex, designed from 1901 to 1909, was commissioned by Darwin and Isabelle Martin. It includes seven components, according to Jack Quinn, in his book, Frank Lloyd Wright's Buffalo Venture, "... the plan, the main house, the pergola, the conservatory, the garage and stable, the fountain and the landscape - in a continuous narrative sequence." The Martins moved into the main residence in 1905, with completion in early 1907, according to Quinn. The second home I visited, Graycliff, is just outside of Buffalo on Lake Erie, and was also commissioned by the Martins, as their lake house, twenty years after the Martin House Complex property. Plans were completed in 1927. The Martins started using the property in 1928.
This blog entry covers the first of the properties, the Darwin Martin House Complex and specifically, the main house, pergola and conservatory. The garage and stable are now the gift shop, the Barton House on the grounds was under renovation and couldn't be visited. Also, at the time, the upstairs of the home was not open to the public, and no photos were allowed inside the main house. The restoration of the main house was completed in the fall of 2019, and I look forward to going back!!
Frank Lloyd Wright (1867-1959) was an architect, writer, designer and more. One of the best known architects of the 20th century, who designed, according to Wikipedia, over 1000 structures. Much has been written about him, so I won't go into his biography here, but if you are interested in reading more about his life, go to The Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation.
* low, hip roofs with broadly cantilevered eaves * prominent foundations that anchor the house to the site * horizontal emphasis in masonry, sills, copings, and garden walls * horizontal bands of windows (usually with art glass) * intentionally concealed entrances and sheltered spaces * "organic" application of materials * cruciform floor plans
Wright also referred to the Prairie Style as Organic Architecture; Wright was influenced significantly by the Arts and Crafts movement that began in the 1880s in England; new designs that reflected social reform (away from industrialization, for example) and didn't follow prior historical movements were established. Wright viewed the entire architectural enterprise, including the interior, as his responsibility and it was important to connect furnishings, finishes and more to the overall design and to the environment and landscape.
Arts and Crafts objects were produced in all media: metalwork, ceramics, glass, textiles and furniture, while architecture typically provided the context within which these objects were brought together.
The Frank Lloyd Wright Trust.
At the time of my visit, we were not allowed to photograph the interior of the house, aside from the pergola (enclosed passsageway, in this case) and connecting conservatory. I have attached photos from other sites (credited) to give an idea of what I was able to see of the first floor interior. Many of the following photos are by Sharon Cantillon - Buffalo News: https://buffalonews.com/2017/06/03/gallery7354/#image=78
Frank Lloyd Wright designed almost all the furnishings in the house; he was exacting about finishes and in the restoration of the home, finishes, tiles and more are all being redone as they would have originally been in 1907.