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Behind Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation’s Mission to Make Life Beautiful

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Behind Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation’s Mission to Make Life Beautiful

Photography courtesy of Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation

Jill Richards

Discover how Frank Lloyd Wright embraced the connection between self, nature and beauty in his legendary architecture.

Famed Architect Frank Lloyd Wright believed that every architect has a mission to make life more beautiful, and the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation is continuing to carry out that mission, right here in Scottsdale at Taliesin West.

ICONIC LIFE Publisher Renee Dee recently sat down with the president and CEO of the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation, Stuart Graff, to talk about how the renowned architect exemplified the philosophy of Living Beautifully on the ICONIC HOUR podcast.

“It’s the vision of the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation to follow Wright’s idea of what an architect should do, which is to ‘make life more beautiful, the world a better one for living in and to give rhyme, reason and meaning to life,’” Graff says. “That’s an exact quote and I think what he meant when he talked about Living Beautifully is to live a life in harmony with the world around us.” 

“In other words, not to merely exist in the world, but to be a part of the world—to make ourselves part of the fabric of the landscape,” he adds.

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Frank Lloyd Wright’s oasis in the desert, Taliesin West, offers calming, nature-focused design that evokes feelings of interconnectedness.

“Whether it’s our buildings, whether it’s our artwork, everything should have this connection to us, to the world,” Graff says. “To create this seamless web of things that bring us joy, things that make our lives healthier and better, that was the core of Wright’s work for seven and a half decades and that’s the core of what we do today.”

Surrounded by a beautiful desert landscape in Scottsdale, Taliesin West often leaves visitors with a feeling of peace and comfort.

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Jill Richards

“It's the vision of the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation to follow Wright’s idea of what an architect should do, which is to ‘make life more beautiful, the world a better one for living in and to give rhyme, reason and meaning to life,’” Graff says. “That's an exact quote and I think what he meant when he talked about Living Beautifully is to live a life in harmony with the world around us.”

“It’s a remarkable thing, so many people who visit our campus will tell us that they feel different when they’re here,” Graff says. “They might feel differently because they’re aware of things that they’re not normally aware of—but they certainly feel different when they’re here as compared to other places—and that, for us, is a great invitation to explore why they feel different. It’s not that they feel uncomfortable, but rather, they have a sense of peace, a sense of harmony, and it comes out of that sense of connection.”

Taliesin West, Frank Lloyd Wright’s winter home and desert laboratory, offers in-depth guided tours, night tours and audio tours that guide guests through the history of the UNESCO World Heritage Site and National Historic Landmark.

“One of my favorite stories has to do with an early tour that I gave to a small group here, one of the people on the tour had just built a home in Paradise Valley,” Graff says. “As we’re walking around, I’m explaining this connection to the landscape and the way that Wright has used materials from the desert landscape to create the fabric of Taliesin West.”

Andrew Pielage

Graff explained that Wright had deliberately set up the architecture, the views and even the size windows to frame the landscape that he saw around him, bringing the desert landscape front and center into his design.

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“At the end of this tour, this one visitor, a nice lady, said ‘this is a great tour but my husband’s going to hate you’ and I said what did I do, I don’t understand what I did wrong here,” Graff says. “She said, ‘no, you did everything right, it’s just that we just built our home and we set up to look just like it did in Minnesota, where we’ve got all the furniture facing the fireplace, and we’ve got these gorgeous views but we don’t look at any of them.’”

Realizing the benefit of embracing the landscape surrounding her, the visitor rearranged her newly decorated house to be more nature-focused.

Foskett Creative

“A few months later she came by and she had her husband with her, and he said ‘I do hate you a little bit, except for the fact that since we changed the house, everything is so much better. You were absolutely right, we were looking at the fireplace and the TV when we could be looking at the world around us,’” Graff says.

Built and maintained almost entirely by Wright and his apprentices, Taliesin West is among the most personal of the architect’s creations. Plan a visit to the historical site to find a deep connection to the desert from which the home was forged.

This story is sponsored by our friends at the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation.

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