|Side chair, Darwin D. Martin House|
|Frank Lloyd Wright, elevation and partial section drawing, dining table and side chairs, Darwin D. Martin House (University Archives, State University of New York at Buffalo)|
Visitors to the Darwin D. Martin House often wince at the prospect of sitting down to dinner at one of Wright's formidable oak side chairs, but little do they know that this was the end result of a contentious exchange between the Martins and their architect. Wright's initial design -- a plan and elevation of the dining table and one side chair rendered in a fine, lightly drawn pencil drawing -- called for a chair that consisted of just three basic parts: a tall vertical back slat, a platform for sitting, and a single wide-board support at right angles to the back slat and the seat. Here are details of the chair drawing:
|Side elevation, side chair, Darwin D. Martin House|
|Plan of rejected side chair, Darwin D. Martin House|
Upon receiving a model for the chair Darwin Martin wrote to Wright on December 26, 1905:
DINING CHAIR. We received yesterday afternoon the 2nd model for dining chair. After carefully considering it we still protest against any design even approx'g this. Yesterday p.m. a lady of more than ordinary intelligence, sat down in the chair to try it and nearly tipped over. We do not want chairs that will cause even one percent of our guests to wildly clutch the air and ejaculate, as this design would surely do.
Please do not hug this child you have invented so close to you that you cannot see with others its impracticality... You have shown your capacity of making good dining chairs. Make us some.
|The Larkin "suicide chair"|
Despite Martin's admonition Wright did cling to his "invention." He designed a three-legged chair for the Larkin Administration Building even as the Martins objected to theirs. Harry Larkin, Jr., the last president of the Larkin Company told this writer that they called it the "suicide chair." Thirty years later Wright designed a lighter, tubular metal three-legged chair for the Johnson's Wax Company. What was he thinking?
|Chair Johnson's Wax Company, 1937|