It was spring break in Chicago, but Chicago didn’t know it. When our plane landed, the pilot said, “Good news, folks! The snow seems to have stopped.”
We looked at each other with arched eyebrows and frozen smiles. Oh, yes, we’d checked the weather before we packed, but snow was not mentioned at all. The coats we brought were Southern coats, just fine for the forecast we got the day before but not for the reality we might be stepping into.
One sleety morning, we toured Frank Lloyd Wright’s Robie House, completed in 1910, on the University of Chicago campus. In an age when American architecture mirrored historic European and fussy Victorian styles, Wright was inspired by the Arts and Crafts movement, which focused on simplicity and respect for materials among other things.
As the guide led us through the house, what stood out was the care Wright took in creating and implementing his signature Prairie style.
Every decision he made was in keeping with the overall design vision he had in his head. His work brought together every element of the house (or building) and integrated it into the whole: the site, the interior and exterior, even the furniture and accessories like wall sconces and rugs.
My favorite thing in the Robie house was the windows. Long, stained-glass windows, with clear and gold glass, allowed light to flood the upper floors of the house. Wright called them “light screens.” Both the light and the warm tone of the wood present everywhere helped me forget it was sleeting outside.
As is often the case for pioneers in art, Wright’s work was not always well-received by contemporaries who didn’t understand or respect his vision. But it was a breath of fresh air for those willing to breathe in.
Are there certain types of beauty that attract you because of their simplicity, unity, or order? Please let me know in the comments below or on social media.
Click here for more information on Frank Lloyd Wright.