Wright Design Elements

I spent a week in Chicago in May 2018 to see the architecture, especially the works of Frank Lloyd Wright, whose works I have admired for quite some time. In a reversal of my normal practice, I have posted the full-length text of this day in Chicago to Daveno Travels, and am using this post to share architectural elements from Wright’s home and studio, and the Unity Temple in Oak Park, that may inspire some of my future works.

Lotus patterned leaded glass window in the dining room. Patterned glass such as this and the diamond pattern you see frequently in homes of this era, allow light to enter, while providing privacy since the disruptions in the glass make it nearly impossible to see in from the outside.

The ceiling light in the dining room is thought to be the first use of recessed, indirect lighting. The grillwork in this ceiling light is stylized oak branches and leaves, and is the same size as the dining room table that sits directly below it.

Stencil in the master bedroom. Wright was American-born with Welsh ancestry. He reflected it in his work by incorporating Celtic motifs from the Tree of Life and the Book of Knowledge throughout his home. This is stencil graces the upper wall and continues all the way around the master bedroom.

A floor grate bringing heat from the central heating system.

The skylight in the Children’s Playroom is a fretsawed grille in a geometric pattern of prickly ash leaves and pods. I have already incorporated a motif from this grille into one of my hat designs.

A stained glass door leading to the street from the Children’s Playroom.

Glass skylights in the Reception Hall (where Wright received guests and clients before taking them into his nearby office). It is inspired by nature as were many of Wright’s designs.

Unity Temple, an exterior shot.

A ceiling light fixture / skylight in the Unity House, the common rooms adjacent to the Temple.

A window in the Unity Temple (in the worship area).

I have also started a board on Pinterest dedicated to the works of Frank Lloyd Wright that I visited in Chicago.

Art & Artifacts in San Francisco

I visited San Francisco in May 2013 to attend a wedding. Since it was just a weekend jaunt, I didn’t write a travel blog, but wanted to share a few of my favorite finds from that trip.

The Xanadu Art Gallery was housed in the only Frank Lloyd Wright building in San Francisco. Its interior design mirrors the Guggenheim but on a much smaller scale, with a spiral ramp that hugs the walls and gradually moves you from the ground to the upper levels, leaving the center of the gallery to be lit from a combination of lighting just below the roof.

After admiring the architecture, my attentions turned to the artifacts from across Africa and Asia, many of which were for sale. One of the pieces that caught my eye was a tiny chop carved from crystal, the first I had ever seen that was not jade or some other opaque stone. An attentive salesman kindly unlocked the cabinet so I could hold it in my hand. At $800 I still regret not buying it.

I returned the chop to its case, thanked the salesman, and started to leave, when he asked me if I had seen the textiles. Textiles? “Yes, the ones in the drawers along the wall on the upper floor”. “Uh, no, I did not…” I followed him back up the spiral, and spent another hour pouring through every drawer in the cabinets.

One of a pair of embroidered Chinese sleeve bands at the Xanadu Gallery.

Sadly, this gallery closed in 2015. The rest of my photos are here.

I also visited the Asian Art Museum, which I would return to later that night to see my friend get married. Again, I spent some time just admiring the architecture before turning my attention to the artifacts. Here are some of my favorites:

Rattan bowler, Japanese, 1880’s. The artist was Hayakawa Shokosai, whose works were made famous by a turn of the century Kabuki actor, Ichikawa Danjuuro IX, whose star power inspired the rattan bowler to become a hallmark of fashion for Japanese dandies. This is a rare surviving example.

Japanese chainmail, Edo Period. This detail shot of the very fine chainmail from a suit of Samurai armor shows coin-pattern discs set into it. These links are flat and about 1/4″ or less in diameter.

Dragon and Feline belt hook, gilt bronze, Eastern Zhou dynasty, Warring Period (475-221 BCE). This is the Chinese version of a belt buckle.

You can see the rest of my favorites on Pinterest.

A Berber Inspired Hat

Travel inspires my work. If you’ve been following me here, you will know that every country I visit, inspires a hat. This one is inspired by a door in a kasbah in Morocco.

The Kasbah Mohayut, on the edge of the Sahara, had doors covered in an ornate configuration of what looked like talismans. My suspicion was confirmed in Marrakech, where I found a copy of a Berber Museum Journal that described the inverted triangular shape as an tizerzaii fibulae. In practical terms, they are worn in pairs, at the chest, usually with a chain connecting the pair together at the lower tip, to secure a woman’s clothing (Viking women wore a similar style of jewelry, for that same purpose). In symbolic terms, they are a protective symbol, something like a Turkish evil eye.

“The mirror-fibuae motif found on the doors in the Atlas operates like a single eye that tattoos each entrance, each important passage into an inhabited place… The eye, and its different representations… may help protect against the black look.” (from “An Aesthetics of Protection” by Salima Naji, Les Cahiers du Musee Berbere, Issue #1, Fondation Jardin Marjorelle Publishers, 2012)

Here’s the hat, and the door that inspired it. The hat will be available soon in my Catalog of Hats.