Frank Lloyd Wright's Trier House Chair

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Project by Josh posted 12-26-2015 02:34 AM 2314 views 1 time favorited 4 comments Add to Favorites Watch

I made this chair out of birch plywood after figuring out the original dimensions and then re-sizing them for my height group. It’s surprisingly more comfortable than it looks.

Frank Lloyd Wright claimed to be 5’8” but according to his friends was more like 4’11”. His furniture and houses reflected that shorter stature.
He told his students, “I took the human being, at five feet eight and one-half inches tall, like myself, as the human scale. If I had been taller, the scale might have been different.” This attitude did not sit well with many of Wright’s contemporaries. Someone once said to him, “Whenever I walk into one of your buildings, the doorways are so low my hat gets knocked off.” Wright calmly replied, “Take off your hat when you come into a house.” Edgar Tafel, a longtime student of Wright’s, tells a story about a fellow student named Wes Peters, who happened to be 6 feet 4, the same height as the ceilings at Taliesin, Wright’s combination home/studio/school. Watching the Peters’s noggin brush up against the rafters more than once moved Wright to holler out, “Sit down, Wes, you’re destroying the scale!”
Designed in 1956 for the Paul J. Trier House in Des Moines, Iowa, this side chair follows the Usonian concept that Frank Lloyd Wright espoused in the 1940s and 1950s. He described furnishings appropriate to such a house: “Rugs, draperies, and furnishings that are suitable for a Usonian house are those … that are organic in character, that is, textures and patterns that sympathize in their own design and construction with the design and construction of the particular house they occupy and embellish.” Like many of the architect’s late commissions, the Trier House was characterized by bold geometry and simple materials. This was reflected in the furniture through the choice of inexpensive plywood as the primary material, to which a simple upholstered foam rubber cushion was stapled. The square and angular patterns cut into the back reflect the geometry of the Trier House and also bring to mind the work Wright did for earlier structures

4 comments so far

View builtinbkyn's profile


3036 posts in 2398 days

#1 posted 12-26-2015 03:29 AM

Very nice representation of that piece. Who is the lucky recipient?

I think the idea that Wright based ceiling heights or any dimensions in his work, on his own personal stature are a bit oversimplified. His works reflect a real sympathy for the human scale and he touched all of our senses, from his use of light to his placement of operable windows to provide a breeze where none would be expected. Much of this was done in very unconventional way. His use of space, of solid vs void, was masterful. The low entry was used to dramatize the expanse of the space it preceded. The visitor experienced compression in the low entry, then passed into a larger volume. Even smaller rooms appeared more important and formal.

Well anyway, your chair is beautiful and well executed. :)

-- Bill, Yo! Brooklyn & Steel City :)

View CharlesA's profile


3470 posts in 3255 days

#2 posted 12-27-2015 12:20 AM

-- "Man is the only animal which devours his own, for I can apply no milder term to the general prey of the rich on the poor." ~Thomas Jefferson

View actordoc's profile


1 post in 2082 days

#3 posted 09-09-2016 03:20 PM

Hi Josh. Great job on the Trier chair. Any chance you can post some detail photos of the chair base and how it’s assembled?


View Dakkar's profile


359 posts in 3385 days

#4 posted 09-10-2016 01:10 AM

Great job, Josh. I’ve long been a huge Wright buff, but to me his furniture has mostly seemed more visually interesting than functional. Your second link is to the wonderful Dallas Museum of Art, which has a great collection of Wright items I’ve seen there. In fact, I’m fairly sure I’ve even seen that very chair. DMA once had some reproduction chairs on display for visitors to sit down on. I found the straight backed chairs uncomfortable, but Wright’s famous plywood “Origami” Chair (that sort of has wings on the side) was quite comfortable. I really like his barrel chair, too and have always planned to repro that one myself one day.

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