It’s been a milestone few months for the legacy of architect and designer Frank Lloyd Wright, from the meticulous restoration of Fawcett Farm House to the mind-bending digital depictions of some of his unbuilt plans. Now, American furniture manufacturer Steelcase debuts their Racine Collection, designed in collaboration with the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation. The tiered desks, utility tables and lounge chairs within the series are not reproductions (though they reference archival works); rather they’re contemporary pieces with evolved proportions, high-performance fabrics and materials and tweaks that enhance use and comfort. Of greatest importance, they don’t feel like museum pieces. They’re meant to be engaged with.
Regarding the collaboration, Stuart Graff, the President and CEO of the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation (which maintains an office in one of Scottsdale‘s architectural masterpieces, Taliesin West), tells COOL HUNTING, “Wright established the foundation back in 1940 for the purpose of perpetuating his ideas about organic architecture and design. Organic architecture can sometimes be summarized as ‘of its time and place, for its time and place,’ so it cannot be locked in the past. It has to be for the present and the future. That’s the nature of this partnership: how we can take our historical work and all the principles that underlie it and bring it to how we live and work today.”
Meghan Dean, the General Manager for Partnerships at Steelcase, nods to their historic relationship with the architect. “Frank Lloyd Wright is part of our cultural heritage,” she tells us. “In 1938, for installation in 1939, the Johnson family came to Steelcase—which at the time was called the Metal Office Furniture Company—to manufacture the Wright-designed office furniture for their SC Johnson administration building in Racine, Wisconsin.” It’s this collection that informs the new line, and Steelcase keeps an original desk in their Grand Rapids, Michigan archive, which we were able to observe alongside the new pieces at their Columbus Circle office in NYC. The Art Institute of Chicago has one of the original desks, as does MoMA and several other museums.
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