PROTOTYPE FOR DESIGN NO. 102
FRANK LLOYD WRIGHT TALIESIN LINE FOR F. SCHUMACHER & CO.
Frank Lloyd Wrights collaboration with F. Schumacher & Co. in 1955 for a line of textiles and wallpapers was instigated by Elizabeth Gordon, editor of House Beautiful magazine, and René Carillo, the textile firms director of merchandising. The collaboration was improbable due to Wrights disinclination towards commercial productions of his work, as well as his dislike for decorators. However, Carillo succeeded in reaching an agreement with Wright to create the product line using his name. Through the early twentieth century, Schumacher had commissioned textile designs from various well-known European and American designers including Paul Poiret, Donald Deskey, Ilonka Karasz, and Ruth Reeves. Adding Wright to their list in 1955 was a particular coup; Wright was then the most famous name in American architecture and in the process of designing the Guggenheim Museum in New York City.
To introduce the line to interior designers, Schumacher produced a sample book, “Schumachers Taliesin Line of Decorative Fabrics and Wallpapers Designed by Frank Lloyd Wright,” which features thirteen large designs for both woven and printed textiles, all with geometric patterns. Their development involved designers at Schumacher, young architects working for Wright, as well as Wright himself. Once Schumacher finalized the details of the licensing agreement with Wright in 1954, the firm quickly went to work to bring the line out in time for a special issue of House Beautiful featuring Wright, planned for the fall of 1955.
Several of the textiles in the Taliesin Line were designed by Schumachers staff based on elements of Wrights architecture and then approved by Wright, sometimes following modifications he requested. Others in the line were executed by Fellows at Wrights Taliesin West studio, in Scottsdale, Arizona, and done under Wrights direction and supervision. The document seen herea prototype for Design No. 102is the work of Ling Po, one of the Fellows at the time. This pattern uses various geometric motifs including concentric rectangles, bars and bands in dark brown, mocha, black, and white to create a bold, abstract design for curtains and upholstery. The commercially produced fabric was machine screen printed on medium-weight linen in six color ways; this prototype is block printed with paint on a heavy, natural linen ground.
The November 1955 issue of House Beautiful, devoted exclusively to Wright, is titled “Frank Lloyd Wright: His Contribution to the Beauty of American Life.“ With numerous articles on Wright's career and houses, his aesthetic approach to design and his writings, the magazine also includes an article on Wright's collaboration with commercial firms called “And now Frank Lloyd Wright designs home furnishings you can buy!” Fabrics from the Taliesin Line appear as curtains and upholstery for sofas in the model rooms; completing these interiors are tables and chairs from a line of Wright furniture done in collaboration with the firm of Heritage-Henredon. The article states, “As for the fabrics he has designed, Mr. Wright believes that soft goods in a room can be a means of liveliness and color, and of individuality, especially where architectural character is somewhat lacking.” For Schumacher, the introduction of Frank Lloyd Wright aesthetics to the mass market was a successful undertaking.