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œChapter6œ
Wright's view of the interior indicated by built-in furniture

Right and left walls designed with display shelves and cabinets (2nd floor salon)


What does the furniture express?

A Designated National Important Cultural Property, YODOKO Guest House has a lot of built-in furniture. Wright designed built-in furniture everywhere in the house, including closets, shelves, and couches, so that he could create a consistent and attractive space. Furthermore, it is said that every piece of furniture reflects Wright's unique view of the interior; although, the design and the arrangement of such furniture seems to be characterless and doesn't look much like Wright, who focused on decoration. We would like to zero in on his silent messages.

Mahogany

Closets in the hallway

Solid plate doors that give a glimpse of Wright's design philosophy

Most of the furniture in YODOKO Guest House is made of foreign wood called mahogany. Why did Wright like to use mahogany, rather than Japanese wood, such as cedar, pine, or cypress? The primary reason for that was mahogany's inconspicuous grain. Wright probably thought Japanese wood with the conspicuous grain of Japanese cedar, pine, and cypress, would damage his own decorative effect. One more thing, he was planning to make a solid plate door called a flush door. Japanese timbers did not allow free selection due to their standardized sizes, and thus were an obstacle. Then, why did Wright bother to use solid plates? We imagine it was because of his wish to express the massiveness of native wood and the feeling of natural material, which cannot be achieved with manufactured plywood (made by laminating a number of wood boards) with its priority of functionality over appearance.

Hall

Salon

Wright's suggestion to the residents over furniture arrangement

In Japan, the typical built-in furniture is a closet, and other such furniture is also usually installed for storage. However, Wright aggressively made space for decorations, as well as for storage. A typical example is the salon. There are many display shelves above the cabinets, making use of the empty spaces. In addition to that, not only woodwork but also the stonework is arranged as a pedestal for a flower vase. Actually, it is said that Wright himself displayed his favorite antiques and ukiyoe pictures around him to use as a motif for his work or to get ideas from them. Watching YODOKO Guest House from this point of view, you will notice that spaces fit for a flower vase, pot, or lamp are laid here and there. We can almost hear Wright's message that he wanted the residents to produce a pleasant space through interior decoration and lived-in comfort.
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Foot of the stairs

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YODOKO's original furniture took advantage of Wright's design philosophy
The table and chairs in the center of the salon on the second floor are of a geometric design based on triangles, and convincingly seem to have been designed by Wright, a magician of formative art. But they are not. They are newly made by YODOKO after reconstruction of the guesthouse before the house was opened to the public, making full use of the design philosophy of Wright.


The road in front of the guesthouse is called the "Wright Slope"
Ashiya City invited the public to join the naming contest for the sloping road in front of YODOKO Guest House (the slope beginning from Kaimori-bashi bridge to the northern Okuyama water purification plant). The nickname was decided as "Wright Slope," as a mark of respect for Wright, the designer of YODOKO Guest House.


*This article was written by Yodogawa Steel Works, under the supervision of Mr. Fumitaka Hirata of the Building Research Institute Foundation, which administrates the restoration and preservation of YODOKO Guest House.

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