Frank Lloyd Wright designed private residences, buildings of worship, office buildings, schools and ateliers, urban civic architecture and even art museums. Wright, who died in 1959, united the indoors with the outdoors in his buildings. He highlighted landscape vistas, gardens and waterfalls. His prairie-style structures focused on what he called organic architecture which made his buildings stand out in the realm of 20th century architectural history.
Wright was interested in devising architectural plans that encouraged visitors to make a pilgrimage to the front door of his private homes, as is the case with the famous Robie House on the campus of the University of Chicago. He thoughtfully designed stained glass windows to fit within an overall design aesthetic. For instance, Wright’s colorful stained glass 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.
Wright designed all aspects of his buildings, which became a mainstay in the history of architecture. It follows that while many of Wright’s buildings have been on the real estate market for high prices, his furnishings and design elements from these houses are captivating to collectors. The market for Wright’s design objects indicate the current interest in architectural salvage, vintage and antique furnishing and accessories. Wright was a highly respected designer from the foundation of his buildings to the furnishings. He designed windows in stained and leaded glass, chairs, tables, serving pieces, built in seating spaces and storage areas, textiles, carpets, light fixtures, planters, sculptures, etc. These objects have become of great interest to collectors.
Some interesting Wright objects demonstrate the interest in architectural elements as a sector of the antiques market as well as the way collectors are engaged to live among Wrightian objects. Popular Wright objects range from light fixtures and stained-glass windows to lounge chairs and carpet remnants. Here are the top Wright objects that have sold on the market in the last year, showing the interest in Wright as a designer:
1. Hanging lamp, John Storer House, Hollywood, California, 1923 — $36,000
2. Lounge chair, Clarence Sondern House, Kansas City, Missouri, 1939 — $15,000
3. Stained glass window, Lake Geneva Hotel, Lake Geneva, Wisconsin, 1911 — $10,000
4. Stained glass window, Avery Coonley House, Riverside, Illinois, 1908 — $8,500
5. Leather chair, Francis W. Little House, Wayzata, Minnesota, circa 1902-03 — $4,750
6. Standing oak desk, Frank L. Smith Bank, Dwight, Illinois, 1905 — $4,500
7. Upholstered bench, Unitarian Meeting House, Madison, WI, 1951 — $3,500
8. Wastebasket, Larkin Building, Buffalo, New York, circa 1906 — $2,100
9. Bound carpet remnant, Arizona Biltmore, Phoenix, Arizona, 1929 — $300
10. Buffalo Pottery china plate with Larkin Co. 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 modern architecture are quite satisfied with a planter, wastebasket or rug designed by Wright. Today, these architectural elements are become much easier to find and afford.
Lori Verderame is the author, Ph.D. antiques appraiser and award-winning TV personality who appears on History Channel’s “The Curse of Oak Island.” With a Ph.D. from Penn State University and vast appraisal experience, “Dr. Lori” presents appraisal events to worldwide audiences. Visit www.DrLoriV.com/events or call 888-431-1010.