TALIESIN WEST

 See that door? Signature FLW color: Cherokee red. He painted everything that color - his cars, all his doors, his walls. 

See that door? Signature FLW color: Cherokee red. He painted everything that color - his cars, all his doors, his walls. 

While in Phoenix for a wedding last weekend, we spent our last morning on a tour of Frank Lloyd Wright's Taliesin West, his architectural residency compound on the outskirts of Scottsdale. What began as an experiment in live-work educational internships led to being an accredited architectural school for a small number of elite design students from around the world. 

Before the Great Depression, Wright was having extreme success as a young architect in Chicago, but his extramarital affair with his first wife went public and it all but (temporarily) ruined his reputation in that town. He and his new wife escaped to Phoenix, where they built an entire campus out of nothing, with hardly any money whatsoever, just using the fatta' the land and bartering local cement dealers for materials. 

 The movie theater Frank Lloyd Wright designed and built

The movie theater Frank Lloyd Wright designed and built

One of my favorite tidbits from the tour is that it was Frank Lloyd Wright's staunch belief to never build atop a mountain or a crest of a hill - there is no humility in conquering a piece of nature, but rather one should build into the side of it. That is why he named this campus "Taliesin," which means "Shining Brow" in Welsh. He built upon the brow, just under the crown of the head, and in this way he exemplified his entire design ethos: to seamlessly flow into what was there before, and to use elements and materials that honor the environs rather than counteract them. 

I highly recommend a visit to this wonderful corner of our world. Frank Lloyd Wright is of course a famous architect but so much more - it was at Taliesin West that he invented recessed lighting (used in every movie theater around the world today), inclined seating for movie theaters so that everyone would be able to see the screen, and so on, and so on. He slept 3 hours a night and would often be up playing the piano in his own bedroom at 4 in the morning while he brainstormed for the day (he and his wife stayed in separate bedrooms because he barely slept and she needed, you know, a piano to not be playing at 4 in the morning). 

 Somebody's dad taking a photo on the edge of the Taliesin property

Somebody's dad taking a photo on the edge of the Taliesin property