A few years ago while reading an issue of my beloved AFAR magazine, I ran across a tiny blurp about a Frank Lloyd Wright home in Scottsdale, Arizona (you can see the highlight on AFAR.com). I tore out that page and kept it on my desk as something to do on a future trip to visit my parents.
Given our inclination for sustainability-built homes and the fact that Frank Lloyd Wright was the creator of organic architecture and one of the heads of the Prairie School of architectural style which integrated buildings within the landscape, I knew that Taliesin West was something Mr. Misadventures and I needed to see.
During our last week in Arizona we were able to relax and start checking out the local sites. We had an amazing, interactive visit at Pima Air & Space Museum (along with some amazing tamales) in Tucson and I was keen on making sure we didn’t leave before seeing FLW’s winter home.
Scottsdale is a short drive from Phoenix and before you know it you are in the hills above the city looking out on a magnificent view of the canyons below and mountains beyond. You can imagine that in 1937 (when FLW purchased the land) it was an empty palette to play with.
Mr. Misadventures and I took the Insights Tour, one of many tours they offer (here is a list with descriptions) at Taliesin West and we thoroughly enjoyed it. It is 90 minutes in length and full of interesting stories and anecdotes about FLW’s life and work. We had an amazing docent who was truly passionate about all things FLW.
The best part?
We could touch and photograph as much as we wanted. (I don’t know if it is an Arizona thing but after both Pima and Taliesin West, I am in love with their approach to museums!). I have been to lots of historic homes and this is the first time I have been able to sit on the furniture, to touch walls, it is fantastic!
Frank Lloyd Wright was heavily influenced by the work of Friedrich Fröbel, the creator of kindergarten and educational toys that used “visual materials to reconstruct a successful system to teach young children about art, design, mathematics, and nature.” Basically, geometric shapes. The other influence on FLW was Asian. Both Chinese and Japanese designs, art, and philosophy.
Once we began touring the house and grounds, we were able to see geometric shapes (which after 79 years are still in style) and Asian touches throughout. See if you can spot them in the photos I’ve shared.
What Mr. Misadventures and I loved the most is how much natural light the house had, just gorgeous! Although natural light means the sun, so I am not sure this would be my favorite place to visit in the summer (they do have air conditioning), it is FLW’s winter home for a reason!
This was FLW’s office and he could work in it all day without any lights!
The living room also was full of natural light. The chairs were designed by Mr. Wright and are really interesting. They aren’t entirely comfortable, they are meant to keep you sitting up and paying attention (to the host no doubt) while they were entertaining!
There are windows that provide a line of sight everywhere.
This scene from an ancient Chinese play was purchased in San Francisco’s Chinatown. Having not survived the voyage on the boat from China, there were large pieces and FLW was able to buy them very cheaply and had them inserted into the walls of his home.
There are multiple dragons as well, like when we enter the back of the house. Geometrics may not age, but how about that gold and teal!?
And in the back garden.
The home is also a functioning school of architecture and we got to peek into one of the apprentice work areas. It is cool to know that there are continually new generations of architects inspired by their time at Taliesin West.
Here is the courtyard at the backside of the apprentice design area.
I haven’s share every room that we visited, you definitely need to plan a visit for yourself to take it all in. I promise you that you will be inspired to seek out other FLW sites when you are done!
How about you? Have you visited a Frank Lloyd Wright site? I bet you have! With over 532 completed projects, it is likely there is one in your own backyard!
Disclosure: I received complimentary tickets from the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation and I wish to express my thanks as I had an amazing time. As always, despite the sponsorship, all opinions are my own.
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