Friday, August 6, 2010

Just a Little Trim

Incredible Martin House factoid of the week:

Of the eighty-nine different wood molding profiles from the Martin House, only three have a curve.  The other eighty-six are composed almost exclusively of right angles.  

The significance behind this factoid, of course, is that it attests to the pervasive rectilinear quality of Wright's design.  Plugged into the interwoven grid of the complex, the trim details follow its language of squares and rectangles.  But Wright slips a few gentle curves into the baseboard trim.  Why?  One answer may be:  to make a less jarring transition from floor plane to wall planes and piers.  Another answer may be purely practical:  the wear and tear that furniture and shoes tend to exact on such woodwork would soon reduce a crisp edge to a blunt one (so Wright blunts it by design).  Ultimately, the baseboard of the Martin House comes to resemble water table trim in other houses such as those of the Graycliff estate (below). 

Amazingly, all of this intricate trim from the Martin House - some eight miles of it, end-to-end - has been removed, cataloged and stored, to be restored and returned to the house in the course of completion of Phase 5 of restoration.  

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