Wright Inspiration

Recently a friend invited me to go to Taliesin West, Frank Lloyd Wright’s School of Architecture, on his birthday for a special event they were having in his honor. I have been there several times and I never get tired of seeing it, I find it very inspiring even.

I have a hard time remembering when Taliesin was started because the date was so long ago it doesn’t sound like it could possibly be right,1937. He had just completed Falling Waters and was receiving major accolades on the project. He took the profits from that project and decided to go to the middle of nowhere Arizona and build his second School of Architecture. He was almost 70 years old, an age where most would be retired already, but instead starts this whole new adventure on an incredibly bleak part of the desert, and talks his first group of students into paying for the privilege to build the place…amazing!

What really strikes me is how “current” his style is, to this day nothing looks “old fashioned” like other homes from 1937 look to us now.

I had the privilege of working with Bing Hu, a student of Frank Lloyd Wright, the home we did is on my website. It was the feature article in Luxe Magazine, so it also was on the cover. I knew pictures had been sent to Luxe, but I didn’t know it was going to be on the cover. When I saw it in the grocery store I excitedly showed the checker the cover and said, “This is mine! I did this!” She looked puzzled and said you mean you bought the magazine already and not to charge you for it? I said, “No, I want to buy all of the Luxe Magazines you’ve got!”

The same elements, the same concepts that Taliesin has this current house has, even though it was close to a hundred years apart.

Wright said “Arizona needs its own architecture…Arizona’s long, low, sweeping lines, uplifting planes”… need to be reflected in its architecture and this sentiment rings true today. When working on this project I kept many of the Taliesin qualities in mind. The stone wall comes down the front walkway, creating Wright’s idea of a sense of compression, and continues into the house, visible through the glass front door, and travels across the room and curves around to the back of the house and out again onto the patio. Wood tongue and groove ceilings follow through all the area as well, creating Wright’s concept of bringing the outside in and the inside out. The Bedrooms and Master Bath have butt glass windows, also a Wright idea, that creates a virtually seamless view from one direction to another. The home is on four levels and looks like it just emerged from the hillside, following the Wright philosophy of a home being set on the “brow” of a hill instead of of the top. A home should be inviting, like one’s eyes, not a fortress.

Once Wright had to testify in court and upon being sworn in he was asked to state his name and occupation. He said, “I’m Frank Lloyd Wright and I’m the Greatest Architect in the world”. Later his wife scolded him and said, “Why did you say that?”. He replied, “Because I was under oath and could not lie!” I have got to agree!

Working with a Team

Recently, I updated my website and one of the comments I got was that it must be exciting to be an Interior Designer..made me think…exciting? Well, it certainly gets my blood pressure up sometimes, but I don’t think people realize the extent of what I do.

I’ve always said, “I’m not just a pillow-picker”, but that doesn’t begin to cover all that an Interior Designer does, and I think that is why sometimes people have a misconception about just what a designer does.

College didn’t really prepare me either, but I think that might be true of many occupations. I remember a teacher down- graded a project because I used pink and red together…I always have ignored “the rules” apparently… I use pink and red all the time, just needs to be the “right” pink and red.

I recently looked at my college transcript and most of the design classes I don’t really remember. However, the required, seemingly odd ones that have been the most valuable to me, like Geology! Never dreamt I would need to know granite is volcanic and has certain characteristics totally different from say Marble…and then there’s travertine, I could talk for hours about travertine and sometimes do, just ask one of my clients whose installed travertine recently.

What I should have taken were business and accounting classes, I need those all the time! I’m a great Interior Designer, but I’d get paid a lot better if I was a better accountant. The Calculus class I possibly could have done without, don’t think I use it on a daily basis like Geology… but don’t tell my grandkids that.

But after looking at my new website, a client said I should have a tab showing my “Team”. She was referring to all the wonderful people that make me look good by the talented work they do. An Interior Designer is only as good as the people she works with and the people she trusts to turn her ideas and dreams into reality.

Early in my career, I mentioned to my Dad, as I introduced a woman I had just hired, that she “worked for me”, later he said to me privately, “Don’t ever say that, and never think it, …she works WITH you..never forget that,” and I never have. My Dad was Capsule Engineer for the Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo Space Program. He literally was part of a team that got men to the moon, so I think he knew what he was talking about.

I know I wouldn’t be the Designer I am without the great people who move walls for me, build walls for me, guide my selections of plumbing and appliances and make it all work together, plumb the water, create the electricity that makes my chandeliers glow, lay the beautiful tile I’ve selected with genius precision, turn plain wood into beautiful furniture for baths and kitchens, carve and create life into a slab of stone turning it into a magnificent piece of art.

Come to think about it…being an Interior Designer is exciting!