Defending this room was an anteroom or vestibule but
the ceiling dropped down to the top of the doors. A
straight line glass pattern formed this ceiling – glass
diffusing artificial light. The effect of this indirect
lighting in the small anteroom was light sunlight,
no fixtures visible.’
At home, rather than a conventional chandelier over
the dining table, Wright recessed a lamp in the ceiling
shielded behind rice paper and a wood grille with
stylised oak leaves and arabesques so that the light
filtered through ‘much subdued’.
In 1893, Wright also visited the Chicago World’s
Columbian Exposition for which Silbee designed a
moving sidewalk, a forerunner of moving walkways,
and Sullivan designed the Transportation Building at
the Columbian Exposition. But it was perhaps Japan’s
national pavilion that had the greatest effect on Wright.
His interest had probably been woken already by
seeing Silbee’s extensive collection of things Japanese
but the experience spurred him to go to Japan in 1905.
He returned with a huge selection of prints which were
to become a lifelong passion and influenced him to use
flat areas of colour encased in black lines in the designs
of his furniture and lighting.
At this time, Wright’s architecture began to employ
a new vocabulary of space, form and pattern
characterised by horizontal forms that alluded to the
flat, stratified landscape of the Midwest. The rectilinear
Prairie style emphasised horizontal lines, open plans,
flat or hipped roofs with overhangs and windows
grouped in horizontal bands that sought to evoke native
vistas; solid construction, disciplined ornamentation,
craftsmanship and honest materials that drew on the
ideals of the Arts and Crafts, and integration with the
landscape informed by Transcendentalism.
This is also when he began to develop the well-documented philosophy of an organic architecture
that reflected a building’s place, purpose and time,
showing Sullivan’s influence. He famously summed it
up when he demanded of his apprentices, ‘can you say
when your building is complete, that the landscape is
more beautiful than it was before?’ Edgar Kaufmann,
who was a resident apprentice at Wright’s Taliesin
East School and Studio from 1933 to 1934 (and son
of the businessman for whom Wright designed the
landmark Fallingwater residence), believed that
Wright’s ideology stemmed from a transcendental
belief that human life and nature are inextricable.
Overleaf: flooded with natural light, the living room at Fallingwater
in rural Pennsylvania, completed in 1937 for Edgar J Kaufmann, and
perhaps the greatest expression of Wright’s organic architecture,
integrating the structure into the land
‘Daylight sifting through between the
intersecting concrete beams, filtering
through amber glass ceiling lights.
Thus managed, the light would, rain
or shine, have the warmth of sunlight’