The Johnson Wax building marked Wright's return to metal furniture since he first utilized the material in the Larkin building of 1905. Within the cavernous space, Wright incorporated organic forms to complement the curvilinear motif of the floor plan. In this particular chair design, a circle is doubled, acting as the seat and backrest, supported by parallel rows of semicircular ribs to create an expressive and rigid frame.

An employee seated at her desk in the main workroom of the Johnson Wax building, 1936. Johnson, S.C., and Son, Inc. Administration Building. Frank Lloyd Wright, architect. Historic Architecture and Landscape Image Collection, c. 1865-1973, Ryerson and Burnham Archives, The Art Institute of Chicago. Digital File #67682.

[The Johnson Wax building was] designed to be as inspiring a place to work in as any cathedral was designed to worship in.

Frank Lloyd Wright

The main workroom of the Johnson Wax building, 1936. Johnson, S.C., and Son, Inc. Administration Building. Frank Lloyd Wright, architect. Historic Architecture and Landscape Image Collection, c. 1865-1973, Ryerson and Burnham Archives, The Art Institute of Chicago. Digital File #20410.

Frank Lloyd Wright 1867–1959

During his seventy year career as an architect, Frank Lloyd Wright created more than 1,100 designs, half of which were realized and a large portion of which came about later in his life. Wright was born in Richland Center, Wisconsin in 1867. He enrolled at the University of Wisconsin in 1885 to study civil engineering, completing only two years of the program. After working for Joseph Silsbee on the construction of the Unity Chapel in Oak Park, Illinois Wright decided to pursue a career in architecture and he moved to Chicago where he began an apprenticeship at the famed architectural firm Adler and Sullivan, working directly with Louis Sullivan until 1893.

After parting ways, Wright moved to Oak Park. Working from his home studio, he developed a system of design developed from grid units and rooted in an appreciation of natural materials that would come to be known as the Prairie School of Architecture and would change the landscape of American design forever. Wright devoted himself to teaching and writing during the 1920s and 1930s. 1935 marked the beginning of an immense surge of creativity and productivity as he began work on his most celebrated residential design, Fallingwater. In the 1940s and 1950s Wright focused on his Usonian designs that reflected his belief in democratic architecture, offering middle-class residential options. In 1943, Wright took on his most demanding commission, the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York. The museum, which would open its doors six months after his death in 1959, would be called his most significant work.

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