Frank Lloyd Wright’s Office Furniture Was Ahead of Its Time. Here’s How the Architect’s Foundation Has Updated It for the Work-From-Home Era
The items are reproductions of the desks and chairs that Wright designed for his landmark Johnson Wax Headquarters.
In 1936, wanting to modernize, S.C. Johnson & Son sought out Frank Lloyd Wright to design the Johnson Wax Headquarters, its administrative offices in Racine, Wisconsin. The result became one of the visionary architect’s most iconic and enduring structures.
From the towering “dendriform” columns in its half-acre Great Workroom to the miles of glass tubing that formed its skylight, the structure was a marvel of 20th-century engineering. When it was completed, Wright hailed the Johnson Wax Headquarters as an architectural interpretation of modern business at its best, calling it “as inspiring a place to work in as any cathedral ever was to worship in.” The landmark building remains the only Wright-designed corporate headquarters still in operation.
Wright’s achievements, however, weren’t restricted to the structure. He planned more than 40 modular pieces of furniture for the interior to help improve office design, such as rolling file carts that could be easily moved around the Great Workroom rather than bulky traditional file cabinets. He also identified a warm red-brown shade for both exterior and interior walls in an effort to increase productivity.
Now, you can outfit your 21st-century home office with pieces inspired by these designs. Drawing directly from the archives, the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation has teamed up with the original manufacturer, Steelcase, to launch the innovative work-from-home collection. The expanded range translates Wright’s organic design principles for today’s remote-work scenario.
The Frank Lloyd Wright Racine collection features desks, matching chairs, and utility tables produced in the same style and brownish hues—maple or walnut—as the originals. The Signature Desk ($9,750) offers original details, such as curved storage cabinets, as well as modern touches like a built-in waste basket and a top shelf with a paper flow organizer. The chairs—including the lounge style that Wright created for the building in 1939—feature a wider seat and can be ordered in upholstery or wood or color finishes, with or without armrests.
“Frank Lloyd Wright used design as a means of deepening the relationships between people, nature, and place,” said Stuart Graff, President and CEO of the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation. “With the Frank Lloyd Wright Racine collection and our collaboration with Steelcase, we’re excited to expand his vision of an architecture for better living.”
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