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The Lighting of the Praerie Houses #Frank Lloyd Wright

The treatment of light is essential to understand Frank Lloyd Wright‘s architecture. Skylights, windows and stained glass windows participate in the definition of the interior and modify its relationship with the exterior. In the Praerie Houses, where the influence of the European Arts & Crafts movement and its renewal of the craftsmanship was still evident, the light from the outside is filtered through leaded windows with abstract and geometric motifs, made together with collaborators such as Orlando Giannini and Marion Mahoney.

(…)the ideal of organic simplicity (understood as an expression of perfect integration) abolished all additions; rejected all superficial decoration; turned all lighting and heating appliances into architectural objects of the house (…)” Frank Lloyd Wright, An autobiography.

The same warmth effect that Wright was looking for when he filtered the outside light was sought in the artificial lighting of these homes. But the lamps designed by Wright, in addition to responding to the needs of interior lighting, are objects that condition the space and, like Wright’s furniture, follow the same guidelines as the architecture to participate in the creation of a single “total work of art” or Gesamtkunstwerk.

In the house for Susan Lawrence Dana, a lady of high society, Wright had the opportunity to complete the interior design, including furniture, stained glass and lamps. For this house of more than 1000 square meters he designed more than 200 lamps, including the bronze and leaded glass table lamps, a piece of miniature architecture in which the geometric patterns of the stained glass windows are reproduced.

The wall lamps for the Little House and the Irving House represent a further step towards abstraction and show the influence of Japanese architecture in Wright, with its grid of vertical and horizontal elements and its translucent panels, while the tones chosen for the glass, green and gold, reproduce inside the sunlight filtered through the tree leaves.