20 Apr Art Passport Adventure #3: Seizing the Day at Taliesin West
By Barbara K. Stump, MA
The sentiment “home is where the heart is” can be interpreted differently by everyone, but generally speaking it’s where you feel love and are loved. What things have you intentionally done in your home to manifest this feeling? What is important to you in your home? Is it about function? Conveniences? Or, style and aesthetic qualities? Frank Lloyd Wright once said, “I believe a house is more a home by being a work of art.” Did you ever think the way you decorated your home could be considered a work of art? To me, that mindset is challenging, but may be appropriate. Your home should provide a comfortable and beautiful place for you to live and escape, and it is also a reflection of you.
Frank Lloyd Wright is one of the most important American architects in our history. He created many amazing homes during his lifetime. They are not only works of art, but a reflection of himself. This past winter I had an opportunity to tour Taliesin West, with Julie Galvin, Ph.D, and founder of the Galvin Growth Group. We had a wonderful time there and we truly seized the day at Taliesin West! There was so much information to soak in and learn about this home and the architect.
As a little background on Taliesin West, it is located in Scottsdale, Arizona. Frank Lloyd Wright completed Taliesin West in 1937. He wintered there with his wife until his death, in 1951, at the age of 91. Mr. Wright’s house designs focused on principles of organic architecture: Space, Site, Materials, and Purpose. Taliesin is Welsh, and means “shining brow.” It was important for Wright to include surrounding materials in his design and purchase other materials from local suppliers. The rock walls came from the desert sand and quartz rocks. His wood supply for the house structure came from lumber yards in Phoenix. While good for the environment and trendy today, he was ahead of his time with his use of found materials.
Frank Lloyd Wright could also be considered visionary, with his use of recessed lighting and his use of natural light through an abundance of windows. These windows also afforded panoramic views of the Arizona desert. Uniquely, he designed a number of distinctively shaped pools around the home. They were added to Taliesin West not only for swimming, but also reflection and cooling. Another visionary touch was an apprentice studio, where architects could live, work, and learn.
In addition to the studio space for the apprentice workers, Wright had his own office space. How many of us today need to find a work area in our homes? He actually had many spaces throughout his home where he could work if ideas came to mind, including in the bedroom he shared with his wife. Wright created several of his most famous architectural drawings here at Taliesin West. One of the most significant of these is the Guggenheim Museum.
Perhaps you also have created a space for you to work from home? What other things have you done to decorate your home? Frank Lloyd Wright utilized his surroundings to decorate Taliesin West. It could be described as rough and primitive, combined with the contemporary roof lines. Intertwined with these two notions, there are many influences of Native American art inside and outside of this home. Also, the color palette stays true to the surrounding desert environment. A number of rooms feature beautiful, large Native American vases. The exterior of the home has various sculptures in simplified shapes, and eye-catching boulders showing off ancient petroglyphs. I loved seeing these up close!
In addition to the Native American cultural influence, Wright fused in Asian culture. He was an Asian Art collector, and incorporated pieces of a broken sculpture into different mosaic areas throughout Taliesin West. During our tour, it was mentioned that Mr. Wright utilized feng shui into his spatial arrangement of furniture within his homes. What that means is Wright was intentional with the orientation of furniture and the flow of the room to create a favorable energy.
Chairs he designed resembled origami shapes.
Do you have some dream features you would love to add to your home? Wright included a couple other unusual features for his time, such as a movie theater and significantly shorter doors.Wright’s doors were built to his specifications. A normal size door today is 6’8”. His doors were much shorter, maybe because he was only 5’7”. So, again he used details like this to personalize his own home. The theater must have been a lovely place for entertaining his friends. Today, when you visit Taliesin West, you can also attend events held in the theater and throughout this National Historic Landmark.
Frank Lloyd Wright truly was a creative genius, and knew how to design a home that fit his lifestyle. So, what are some things you can do to make your home feel more personalized and unique to you? Since we all can’t hire a renowned architect to transform our homes, is there a DIY project you could try? Maybe something small requiring only a low investment? A simple idea could be finding and displaying or framing artwork you personally enjoy. It could even include something as simple as printing photos you may already have stored on your phone! Perhaps you could add some spring decor to your front porch? Or a small landscaping project around your mailbox? Even a little spring cleaning could do wonders! Inspirational podcaster, Maryam Hasnaa, states, “Your home is an extension of your energy field. This is why practices like cleaning your home, rearranging furniture, organizing your closet and getting rid of objects that are cluttering your space can have profound impact on your own mind, body, and spirit.”
Whatever big or small task you can do to make your home feel more comforting for you, seize the day! Swiss theorist and psychiatrist Carl Jung theorized that “the home is powerfully symbolic—and psychologically significant. Far more than shelter from the outside, our homes are a reflection of ourselves, our identity.” After touring Frank Lloyd Wright’s home, I am feeling more inspired to work with my husband on our lake house remodeling projects. I’m optimistic about making it reflect our interests and needs together, one room at a time. I hope you will also find joy in creating a home that not only reflects you and your personality, but is a wonderful retreat for you no matter what the season may be.
Barbara is an art education consultant and G3 contributing writer.