Falling Water- Architectural Dream Land


Have you ever wonder what true inspiration is? Spanish poet Federico Garcia Lorca first coined the term "duende" in 1933. He said, "It is the feeling that wells up deep inside us, an emotional and physical response to a work of art, a performance or a piece of music. Duende is what gives us the chills, makes us smile or cry as a bodily reaction." Great interior design and architecture can have the same effect and it is why it is so important to invest in the results of both so you can capture the evocation of "duende" and ignite that inexplicable positive emotional reaction to the aesthetics of the artistry of a home's design, finishes and architecture.

For me a great example of someone who evokes inspirations, the "duende", and who's work I have always been in love with is Frank Lloyd Wright.  He is, in my opinion, one of the most talented American architects of all time and his work like many great artist can evoke emotional responses. Frank Lloyd Wright promoted organic architecture, he was a true believer in merging the outdoors with the indoors. His most successful example of this is Fallingwater. Voted the most important building of the 20th century in a poll conducted by the American Institute of Architects, Frank Lloyd Wright’s Fallingwater this year celebrates its 80th anniversary. This residential mountain retreat masterpiece by Wright was designed in 1935 for legendary Pittsburgh department store owner Edgar Kaufmann Sr.  When Wright came to the site he appreciated the powerful sound of the falls, the vitality of the young forest, the dramatic rock ledges and boulders; these were elements to be interwoven with the serenely soaring spaces of his structure. But Wright’s insight penetrated more deeply. He understood that people were creatures of nature, hence an architecture which conformed to nature would conform to what was basic in people. Fallingwater opened a new chapter in American architecture, and is perhaps rightly considered Wright’s greatest work.

Wright's masterpiece was donated as a public museum in 1964 by the Kaufman family who lived in the home from its final construction in 1937 until 1963. Since then over 5 million people have walked the home and the grounds. It is a testament to the power of great architecture, the design and how it, like any art form, has the power to move us emotionally and feel the inspiration and intention of the artist. For homeowners and potential remodelers there is an interesting financial background to the creation of Fallingwater. The original estimated cost for building Fallingwater was US$35,000. However, the final cost for the home and guest house was US$155,000 broken down as follows: house $75,000; finishing and furnishing $22,000; guest house, garage and servants' quarters $50,000; architect's fee $8,000. From 1938 through 1941 more than $22,000 could be spent on additional details and for changes in the hardware and lighting.(Wikipedia)The total project price of $155,000, adjusted for inflation, is the equivalent of approximately $2.6 million in 2014. Although the difference from estimated price to final results is extreme (Edgar Kaufman Sr.  was a very wealthy department store owner), it is not uncommon for the final results of projects to come in much more expensive than the original estimate. Most of that can be attributed to the reality of the finished aesthetic in the home versus the original vision.

For anyone who is contemplating a remodel or has been through one, the initial plan and final results always come with some change. Some of it is small, like adding pebble tile to a shower pan but sometimes it can be as big as an entire redesign due to some unforeseen issue or the reality that the plans and the vision don't look the way you had hoped. Wright's vision and Kaufmann's came with a world of hiccups. The construction was plagued by conflicts between Wright, Kaufmann, and the construction contractor and Kaufmann was concerned with Wright's knowledge of and working with reinforced concrete. The cost to make the home a reality though considerably greater than anticipated resulted in one of America's great architectural marvels.

So as you look at home's and designs in Pinterest and you build your design vision and inspiration, remember that you are tapping in to creativity and design and great craftsmanship are art forms. Be prepared for interpretive differences and changes. Plan on making a budget for remodels that can handle necessary design changes so that you can accomplish your vision as it grows into reality and not find yourself accepting results less than desired due to falling under budgeting.

In the end inspiration and creativity can be innovative and groundbreaking. "Without drawing on tradition, without relying on precedent, Fallingwater was created by Frank Lloyd Wright as a declaration that in nature man finds his spiritual as well as his physical energies, that a harmonious response to nature yields the poetry and joy that nourish human living."- Edgar Kaufmann, Jr., Fallingwater: A Frank Lloyd Wright Country House, p. 65.

Take the time to find out your creative side and explore. 

Tad Keyser
Tad Keyser


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