Frank Lloyd Wright has always been one of my all-time favorite architects. Having lived in the Chicago area, I certainly saw my fair share of Frank Lloyd Wright homes and have even toured a few over the years. Last night though, while reading the November issue of Sunset magazine, I learned that I was influenced by another Lloyd Wright in my design career and didn’t even know it!
Frank’s second son, John Lloyd Wright, lived much of his life in the shadow of his father yet he was a reputed architect and inventor in his own right. He built quite a portfolio of homes for himself over the years although I don’t believe I have ever seen one. There are a few of his designs in Illinois and another project at the dunes in Indiana but, for the most part, John’s work can be found in Southern California where he had relocated in his teens to be near his older brother, Lloyd, who had turned to landscaping as a career.
So how is it that this second Lloyd Wright came to influence my design view? Back in 1920, John Lloyd Wright was the inventor of the now-classic toy – Lincoln Logs. Now, I was (am) more of a Lego’s gal myself. I even went so far as to construct Frank Lloyd Wright’s ‘Falling Water’ home out of the plastic blocks. [Yet another instance where Frank’s architectural influence over-shadowed John’s, I guess.] But I do remember pulling out the box of Lincoln Logs in Grandma’s basement closet.
You might say that I showed my design roots at an early age because I did enjoy building with them. Perhaps they even influenced an early desire of mine to build a log home. I never did do that and, at this point, I no longer have that burning desire but I did study up quite a bit on log home construction before I let that dream go. I remember finding it fascinating that it is one type of building where the walls aren’t hollow to hide the mechanicals and you have to plan for it to shrink over time. Since the logs dry out and contract a bit as they age, both designer and architect have to plan for that spacial loss. Imagine having to think through how to install a kitchen so that the pipes don’t burst, the electrical wires don’t get pinched to the point that they crack and the cabinets don’t crush the backsplash causing the tiles to pop as the ceiling slowly gets closer to the floor. It is a fascinating engineering challenge when you think about it!
So I guess now I know that both Frank Lloyd Wright AND John Lloyd Wright were influencers of my design aesthetic. Just like in John’s lifetime though, Frank just took a bit more of the center stage.