Coonley Chair – 1907

The Coonley Chair was designed in 1907 by famed american architect and interior designer Frank Lloyd Wright, made specifically for the Avery Coonley House.

Coonley Chair - 1907
Coonley Chair – 1907

From a chair to an house

Harmony between the components that made up a building, both internal and external, was integral to Wright’s philosophy in creating a living space: architecture, interiors and furnishings, according to his vision, should all come from the same concepts and principles – an approach he defined “Organic Architecture”: everything had to be “of” the building itself, rejecting as such the current American trends of historicist, premade furniture – or even those of his European Modernist peers, advocating for functional and standardised designs.

Especially in his earlier years, Wright was strongly influenced by the British Arts and Crafts movement, who combined traditional artisanship and modern means of production; however, unlike them, he praised the strenghts and potential shown by the machines, allowing thus his peculiar, to the point of often being rejected by most production firms, but incredibly innovative designs to come to fruition.

Despite lacking experience in wood-working, Wright began thus creating his own furniture to accompany his building projects, starting with his very Oak Park home; his goal was to reflect, through the use of simple, locally harvested oakwood, the democratic American ideals.

Following this vision, the Coonley Chair was as such designed to fit the Avery Coonley House, a residential complex located on the banks of the De Plane River in the historic Riverside, Illinois.

Coonley Chair 2 (left) and 1 (right); by Frank Lloyd Wright (1907)

Source image: shop.classicdesignitalia.com

The chair’s appearance reflects Wright’s preoccupation – in architecture and interior design alike – with geometric shapes and strong, intersecting planes: an architectonic piece of furniture, architectural in its very character, harmonised with the lines and materials that hosted it.

Throughout his life, Wright had a deep interest in the natural world, and the materials he chose for his furniture often reflected such interest; the Coonley chair is not beyond this fascination, its spare, geometric form being a counterpoint to the rich, long, flowing grain of the oak it is made out of, bringing out its natural qualities, authenticity, and spacial harmony.

“For man, wood is universally beautiful. Man loves the close bond he has with wood, and he wants to feel it in his hands, pleasant to the touch and to the eye.”

– Frank Lloyd Wright

Coonley 2 Chair

Image source: https://www.cassina.com/it

Avery Coonley House

As previously stated, Wright designed this chair for the Avery Coonley House, also known as the Coonley House, a series of several buildings forming a residential complex, built between 1908and 1912  on the banks of the De Plane River in the historic Riverside, Illinois, a suburb of Chicago; today, the house is regarded as a National Historic Landmark.

Avery Coonley House, 1907; by Frank Lloyd Wright

Image source: https://franklloydwright.org

The project was commissioned by a couple of rich industrialists, Avery Coonley and his wife Queene Ferry; the pair, after examining Wright’s body of work, told him they saw  “the countenances of principle” in his designs.

This was to me a great and sincere compliment. So I put my best into the Coonley House.

– Frank Lloyd Wright

Coonley House exemplifies Wright’s Prairie style, with wide overhanging cornices, stripes of art glass windows, flowing interior spaces and a harmonious blend of space and structure, in and outdoors, making it feel more like a small village than an insular home, with courtyards, buildings and garden walls acting as connective tissue. The architect believed it to be among his finest works, designing it down to the smallest feature, including rugs and textiles, even featuring its project at the Chicago Architectural Club’s exhibition (1907); throughout the years, the house received numerous alterations and changes, at Wright’s hands or other successive architects’.

The Avery Coonley Estate Dining Room, F. L. Wright
The Avery Coonley Estate Dining Room, F. L. Wright

Source image: hookedonhouses.net

Materials

The Coonley chair’s back is in natural cherrywood or walnut, either stained or black. The seat cushions are padded with polyurethane foam and upholstered with leather or fabric.

The chair is available in two versions: with a low or high backrest, named respectively the “Coonley 2” and “Coonley 1” model.

Coonley chair (1 top, 2 bottom) around the Taliesin table, also designed by F.L. Wright.

Source image: https://www.arredamenticasaitalia.com/tavolo-riunione-taliesin-wright.html

Data Sheet

Coonley 1 Chair

      • 43 x 47 cm
      • Height: 70 cm
    • Seat height: 46 cm

Coonley 2 Chair

      • 43 x 47 cm
      • Height: 94 cm
    • Seat height: 46 cm

Image source: https://www.architonic.com


Info sources:

www.architonic.com

en.wikipedia.org

www.vam.ac.uk

For more references, please also visit: www.jbdesign.it