Today's Wright

Forty-five companies hold licenses to Frank Lloyd Wright’s designs, producing reproductions and interpretations that further his legacy.

Click here for a list of Arts and Crafts furnishings

by Hadiya Strasberg

This 18-in. cast-bronze urn, a Frank Lloyd Wright reproduction, was hand finished by Historical Arts & Casting. The West Jordan, UT-based firm is constantly expanding its collection of Wright reproductions, using designs from the beginning of his career in Oak Park, IL, as well as later pieces.

by Hadiya Strasberg
The terms “architect,” “designer” and “craftsperson” denote three distinct vocations. Rarely, today, do we find an individual who works in all three areas, but it was not always so. In England, during the 1870s, the Arts and Crafts movement changed the perception of these professions, blurring the distinctions among them. Later, when the movement gained momentum in the U.S., this trend continued. The Greene brothers, for example, laid and relaid fieldstone walls, obsessed over the tiniest joint details and created carpet designs from their watercolor sketches.

The Arts and Crafts movement paid particular attention to the harmony of exterior and interior and to the relationship among material, texture and design. The movement, in essence, attempted to create a total environment, integrating architectural design, furnishings, fixtures, decorative surfaces and artworks. Out of this school came the Prairie Style and its greatest exponent, Frank Lloyd Wright.

Wright’s Prairie houses are notable for the distinctive arrangement of volumes from a central core. This tendency toward building from the inside out is also reflected in the importance Wright placed on the design and fabrication of interior details. Today, Wright’s designs for architectural details, light fixtures, artworks and furnishings are being revived to an unprecedented extent: forty-five companies worldwide are authorized by the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation to produce works based on his designs. Some are exact replicas, while others are modeled after Wright’s originals.

Nichols Bros. Stoneworks produces cast-stone architectural products, including sculpture, planters and urns based on Wright’s designs. One of its replicas, the 1898 Frank Lloyd Wright Oak Park Studio Vase, is offered in a number of sizes.

Established in 1940, the foundation, based in Taliesin West, Scottsdale, AZ, is dedicated to preserving and ensuring the precision and quality of Wright’s art. “The licensing program itself was created in 1985,” explains Betsy Lynn, vice president of licensing retail and merchandising at the foundation. “At that time, the foundation offered a few highly respected firms the right to reproduce Wright’s work. In the later years, interested companies have taken the initiative to apply for a license, and the program has expanded almost tenfold.”

The authorized companies work closely with the foundation's archives to choose from thousands of the drawings Wright produced. Some of these designs were incorporated into his buildings or produced for commissions, but many have yet to be realized. “That’s one of the great things,” Lynn says. “We get to go through the archives and introduce ‘new-old’ designs.”

F. Schumacher & Co.'s Frank Lloyd Wright Collection was inspired by Wright’s stained-glass designs, his personal collection of Japanese art and his passion for nature. Schumacher’s fabrics are available in eight earth-tone colors: from top to bottom, Trellised Vine is shown in poppy, Willits Glass in cactus, Masselink Ferns in granite and Fern Meadow in adobe. Chamois, jasper, Tahoe blue and canyon are not shown.

Wright Licensees
Historical Arts & Casting of West Jordan, UT, reproduces a line of decorative cast-metal objects from designs by Wright from periods throughout his career. These products are part of the larger Metalwork Collection that also includes designs by Louis H. Sullivan, Robert Jarvie and James Bogardus. Each of the pieces is cast in bronze or aluminum from handmade molds, then individually fabricated and hand finished.

Early in 1998, Nichols Bros. Stoneworks Ltd., of Snohomish, WA, was granted a license by the foundation to reproduce garden urns and statuary designed by Wright. To date, the firm has reproduced 45 different objects, including planters from the Frank Lloyd Wright Residence and the Frank Lloyd Wright Studio, both in Oak Park, IL; the Henry J. Allen Residence in Wichita, KS; the Frederick C. Robie Residence in Hyde Park, IL; and other Wright buildings. Tabletop gift items, including bookends and miniature sculptures, make up the remainder of its line.

Andersen Windows produces art-glass panels designed by Wright to fasten to the inside of window units for a built-in appearance. The Colonnade panel is an adaptation of Wright’s design for the windows in Unity Temple in Oak Park, IL.

With a 113-year history of supplying reproductions and interpretations of fabrics, floor coverings and wallpapers, it is no stretch of the imagination to learn that, along with 18th-century reproductions of rugs of royalty, New York City-based F. Schumacher & Co. also supplies Frank Lloyd Wright reproductions. From 1955 to 1958, Schumacher worked with Wright directly and now has expanded its inventory to include Wright’s creations from designs found in the archives. Its most recent Wright collection includes 12 designs, “both nature-inspired items in Wright’s archives and the representations of nature in his own work,” says Schumacher’s vice president of marketing, Nancy Neumann. A new line is under discussion.

A number of companies create art-glass panels, windows and doors based on Wright’s geometric abstractions. Affiliated with the Foundation since 1995, Andersen Windows, located in Bayport, MN, offers four Wright art-glass designs for windows and doors from its line of 11 patterns. “We approached the foundation,” explains Cameron Snyder, manager of brand public relations for Andersen, “because we wanted to create adaptations of authentic Frank Lloyd Wright designs and we felt the affiliation with the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation would be beneficial to both parties.” Its handmade panels are available in glass selected from some of the same sources specified by Wright himself.

This suspended pendant, item #P2230 from Yamagiwa USA Corp., is a reproduction of those that hang in the dining room of Wright’s 1902 Dana-Thomas House in Springfield, IL. The shape and design are reminiscent of butterfly wings.

Yamagiwa USA Corporation holds the initial and sole authorized lighting license of the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation. The Westlake Village, CA-based firm first brought the lighting designs of Wright from Japan to the U.S. market in 1994. Both exact reproductions and adaptations of chandeliers, pendants, wall sconces and table and floor lamps designed by Wright are developed in strict coordination with the scholars, archivists and licensing department at the foundation.

By establishing the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation, Wright allowed reproductions of his work to be accessible long after his lifetime. In turn, the licensed companies help support the foundation and aid in furthering his legacy, enabling his designs to live on in today’s homes.

For inquiries, a licensee list or contact information, please visit www.franklloydwright.org.

Click here for a list of Arts and Crafts furnishings