Inspiration from Frank Lloyd Wright

Inspiration from Frank Lloyd Wright

3 minute read

Are you looking for inspiration?  Try this Frank Lloyd Wright-designed house! 

It’s so different from other iconic FLW designs:  Fallingwater, Taliesin, and the Guggenheim Museum in New York!

Yes, this is called the Hollyhock House and was built in the East Hollywood area of Los Angeles in about 1920.  Hollyhock?  That’s a flower, right?

Pink Yellow and Cream Hollyhocks against a blue sky

This is what a hollyhock looks like.  These gorgeous spiky bloom clusters grow up to 6 feet tall.  They were especially popular garden edging for the cottage garden style, imported to the US from England. 

It was the favorite flower of early twentieth-century oil heiress Aline Barnsdall.  Unlike most of us, she had the means to indulge her favorites and whims on a grand scale:  she commissioned Frank Lloyd Wright to build a hollyhock-themed home.  

Exterior shot of Hollyhock Houses looking into the well lit kitchen


Above this window, you see a stylized frieze of hollyhocks.

Close up view of the hollyhock frieze

Here you see the hollyhock frieze closer up.  The power of image repetition and the intricacy of design detail possible in concrete are astounding!

Circular fountain outside Hollyhock House with a view to the interior courtyard

This beautiful circular fountain allows a view into the interior courtyard. Note the continued frieze of hollyhocks.

In the glass enclosed entry hall of Hollyhock House.  The window panes have a stylized hollyhock pattern.


This view of the entry hall from the interior shows more stylized hollyhock design in glass.  

Closeup of hollyhock motif door handle

Wright applied this design motif even to the door handles!

What truly inspires us about Hollyhock House:

  1. Nature informing architecture.  Using one flower species as a design theme for an entire building is astounding.
  2. Exploring the same motif, hollyhock, in so many different materials and designs (concrete friezes, glass windows, bronze door handles) speaks of a deep understanding of the characteristics of each of these materials.  And yet, for being so diverse, they ‘sing’ well together in this house.
  3. This building was almost demolished in 1942!  The mostly-anonymous history and architecture lovers who helped save this house are truly heroes for helping preserve this amazing piece of architecture that just last year (2020) was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site!  Thank you!!

Design Take-Aways:

  1. Remember to look to nature for design inspiration
  2. Identical repetitions of a single motif can command visual attention
  3. Consider using one inspiration in different styles in different media.  

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