The sound of Falling Water: the relationship between the Kauffmann’s and Frank lloyd Wright

I had the pleasure of visiting Falling Water this past Monday.  During our tour, I was impressed by the description our guide provided about the relationship between the Kauffmann’s and Frank Lloyd Wright, specifically as it related to their role as patrons to his now famous design.  Did the Kauffmann’s allow Wright the space necessary to create his masterpiece? How involved were they in the ultimate design?  We did learn that Mrs. Kauffmann insisted on adding screens to the windows one year after taking occupancy of the home given that the mosquitos appear to have loved the home almost as much as did the Kauffmann family and their servants. We also understood that the window treatments, as simple as they were, were also the idea of Mrs. Kauffmann who wanted some degree of privacy for and from her many guests. Finally, Mr. Wright refused to allow Mr. Kauffmann a garage for his many vehicles, instead settling for a “car port” thus inventing this now familiar term.

But, overall, it appears that the Kauffmann’s allowed Mr. Wright the space he needed to create his seminal work, and in doing so, ensured that their famous architect would create what is arguably the most famous home in American history, second only to the White House.

This got me thinking of the importance of the relationship between client and architect, patron and artist.  It is a delicate dance to give the client what they want, while maintaining the integrity of the design and allowing for the artistic vision to come through.  I have had experiences on both ends of the client/artist spectrum, from experiences for which my artistic vision was given space, to suffering the consequences of the “overly involved client.”  The Kauffmann’s were well served by Mr. Wright, and it appears he as well by his clients who allowed him the creative air to breath so they could enjoy the sounds of falling water.