- Written by Dr. Lori Verderame Dr. Lori Verderame
Frank Lloyd Wright’s buildings are unmistakable. He designed private residences, buildings of worship, office buildings, schools and ateliers, urban civic architecture, and even a major art museum.
Frank Lloyd Wright (1867-1959) united the indoors with the outdoors in his buildings highlighting landscape vistas, gardens, and waterfalls.
His Prairie-style structures focused on the landscape, and his emphasis on what he called organic architecture made his buildings stand out in the realm of 20th-century modernism.
Wright’s designs reference history’s finest structures, from Renaissance buildings, such as the Sistine Chapel, to ancient Japanese pagodas.
He was interested in devising a plan that would encourage visitors to make a pilgrimage to discover the front door of the private homes, as with the famous Frederick C. Robie House on the campus of the University of Chicago.
He thoughtfully designed stained-glass windows to fit within an overall design aesthetic. His colorful windows for the children’s playhouse of the Avery Coonley House in Riverside, Illinois, focused on the family’s active lifestyle with young children.
Wright’s buildings made the hearth the center of the home. The nucleus of his residential structures, the fireplace served as a meeting place in Wright’s home designs with ample seating and room for a large roaring fire, as is the case in Wright’s architectural design of the massive hearth in the Darwin D. Martin House in Buffalo, New York.
While Wright’s buildings were fascinating examples of modern American architecture in the early 20th century, he also charted a path for young architects to follow.
Wright was a highly respected designer of an entire building, from the foundation to the furnishings, and this became a mainstay in the history of architecture.
Wright designed windows in stained and leaded glass, chairs, tables, serving pieces, built-in seating and storage items, textiles, carpets, light fixtures, planters, sculptures, etc. These objects have become of great interest to collectors.
Here are 10 Wright objects that have sold on the market in the last year, showing the interest in Frank Lloyd Wright as a designer of objects:
• Hanging lamp, John Storer House in Hollywood, California, 1923 – $36,000
• Lounge chair, Clarence Sondern House in Kansas City, Missouri, 1939 – $15,000
• Stained-glass window, Lake Geneva Hotel in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin, 1911 – $10,000
• Stained-glass window, Avery Coonley House in Riverside, Illinois, 1908 – $8,500
• Leather chair, Francis W. Little House in Wayzata, Minnesota, circa 1902-03 – $4,750
• Standing oak desk, Frank L. Smith Bank in Dwight, Illinois, 1905 – $4,500
• Upholstered bench, Unitarian Meeting House in Madison, Wisconsin, 1951 – $3,500
• Wastebasket, Larkin Building in Buffalo, New York, circa 1906 – $2,100
• Bound carpet remnant, Arizona Biltmore in Phoenix, Arizona, 1929 – $300
• Buffalo Pottery china plate with Larkin Company logo by Wright, circa 1905 – $150
As Wright enthusiasts consider taking on the project of buying and updating a Wright home or building, many lovers of the Prairie style of modern architecture are quite satisfied with a planter, wastebasket, or carpet remnant designed by the great architect.
Today, these architectural elements are becoming much easier to find and afford.
Dr. Lori Verderame is an antiques appraiser, internationally syndicated columnist and author, and award-winning TV personality on History’s The Curse of Oak Island and Discovery’s Auction Kings. Dr. Lori presents antique appraisal events worldwide. Visit www.drloriv.com/events or call (888) 431-1010.