Exploring “The Space Within” in the Frank Lloyd Wright Quarterly
Jeff Goodman | Feb 16, 2021
Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation’s VP of Communication & Partnerships and the Editor-in-Chief of the Frank Lloyd Wright Quarterly magazine, Jeff Goodman, shares his thoughts on the upcoming issue, “The Space Within.”
In February of 2017, Frank Lloyd Wright’s work was featured on the popular podcast, 99% Invisible. In exploring Wright’s vision of Usonia, host Avery Trufelman interviewed Roland Reisley, who still resides in a house he personally commissioned from Wright. Reisley said this of his home, “I came to realize after some years living here that there’d not been a day in my life when I didn’t see something beautiful. Even on the terrible days that occur in every life.” I was moved by his words and the passion in his voice, but I don’t know that I truly understood them. Not yet.
When I began my job at the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation, nearly 5 years ago, I was unaware how my life was about to change. Of course, every new job comes with change, but this was something altogether different. You see, this was unlike any work environment I had ever imagined. I have heard people speak of working in the White House, that no matter how many times you walk through those doors, it never ceases to be amazing. Working at Taliesin West is like that for me. Each morning, when I drive up the hill, and the view of the studio emerges over the Prow, I get chills. I sit at my desk, on the grounds where some of the most important architecture was created, with a view of the same desert that inspired Wright, and I can’t help but pinch myself and ask, “What am I doing here?”
I also have the incredible honor of traveling to “my other office” in Wisconsin, where I get to work and stay at Taliesin, one floor below Wright’s personal residence. I wake up early, as the architect designed, with light flooding my room and ushering me to spend my day adding “tired to tired.”
My job, like any job, has good days and bad, and its share of frustrations. However, when I feel frustrated or stuck, I can look up from my desk and see something beautiful. I can take a short walk and be immersed in history and inspiration. It is a built-in reset button that calms, restores, and inspires me to press forward in advancing the mission of the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation. Soon, I began to understand, at least in a small way, what Roland Reisley explained about his home, and perhaps why he has lived such a long and inspiring life.
In this issue, we explore the impact of inhabiting “The Space Within” a Frank Lloyd Wright design, and how it benefits our physical, mental, and spiritual well-being. The inspiration for this issue came from conversations with the owner of the Malcom Willey House, Steve Sikora, who has been fascinated by this concept at his Wright-designed home. Honestly, Steve could have written the whole issue, and then some, with his passion for the subject and the research he’s done to understand it. Rather, we are releasing an overview article, Mastery of the Void, where he details how the experience of his home impacts its visitors. Then, we follow up with a new Willey House blog series, where he will expand on the topic throughout the rest of the year!
The rest of the issue builds on Steve’s passion for the topic, beginning with the Reverend Alan Taylor, lead minister at Unity Temple Unitarian Universalist Congregation, describing how Wright’s design brings individuals together as a community in worship. In a passage from her book, Welcome to Your World, Sarah Williams Goldhagen helps reveal how science has backed up the power of Wright’s designs over our health and well-being.
And, coming full circle, a visit with Roland Reisley, to unpack the experience of living in beauty. I met Richard Bradley, editor-in-chief of Worth Magazine, when he came to Taliesin West for a visit a couple of years ago. I was surprised to learn that he lives in Usonia, right across the street from Roland! So, when we wanted to produce an article about Roland’s life in Usonia, I knew exactly who I wanted to write it. The article doesn’t disappoint, and I think it even surprised Richard how moving the exploration of his neighbor’s life in beauty turned out to be.
As you can tell, I am excited about this whole issue, but my excitement for the cover art takes it to a whole other level! I had been following the work of illustrator Chris Turnham for a while. The Los Angeles-based artist creates incredible works based on nature and National Parks.
But it was his architectural illustrations that had really caught my attention, and I have been waiting for just the right moment to ask him to collaborate with us. This was the moment. You may be surprised to see an image of the exterior of Taliesin for an issue exclusively about interiors. But Wright blurred the line between interior and exterior spaces, and Chris’ work captures that by honing in on a view of the interior gleaned from outside. We are all invited to vicariously enjoy warmth and comfort of Wright’s Living Room in Wisconsin. I hope you agree that the cover image sets the tone for “The Space Within” just perfectly.
Friends, we can’t all live or work in a Frank Lloyd Wright design. I hope that, through the articles in this magazine, your visits to Wright sites across the country, and a deeper engagement with the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation, you find ways to incorporate these ideas into your own lives so that you will be happier and healthier, with deeper connections to the beauty and love around you. That’s the answer to my earlier question, “What am I doing here?”
The Frank Lloyd Wright Quarterly magazine is available exclusively to members of the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation. Members receive a number of benefits in addition to the Quarterly, including visits to Taliesin West and reciprocal Wright sites across the country, a discount at the Frank Lloyd Wright Store, invitations to exclusive member events, and more! As a member of the Foundation, you also become an integral part in supporting our mission to inspire people to discover and embrace an architecture for better living through meaningful connections to nature, the arts, and each other.