In February of 2022, I had the pleasure of my first visit to Taliesin West, Frank Lloyd Wright’s winter home and studio. I have never been to Taliesin in Wisconsin, nor his landmark project Fallingwater in Pennsylvania, so this was a total bucket list experience for me!
I have wanted to be an architect since I was about 10 years old and my dad gave me my first book on FLW when I was not much older. After five years of architecture school at Drury, you know I was totally geeking out the whole time.
The trip was hosted by my good friends at Brizo Faucet, my go-to plumbing brand. They recently launched a line of Frank Lloyd Wright faucets, and they did an amazing job of translating Mr. Wright's design language into plumbing. (Wright himself never designed plumbing fixtures.)
I love the photography for the collection -- Brizo built numerous architectural models in which to showcase the plumbing fixtures! It totally takes me back to my architecture school days... the exacto knives, calloused fingers, and late nights...
Where We Stayed
Our small group, composed of designers from across the country, stayed at the historic Arizona Biltmore hotel -- a dream come true! Completed in 1930, the architect of record for the Arizona Biltmore is Albert Chase McArthur, a student of Frank Lloyd Wright. Though, looking around, it would seem that Wright heavily influenced and contributed to the hotel's design.
The Biltmore is erected entirely of "Biltmore Block," a variation on a textile block first used by Wright to construct private homes. The are 34 different designs of the Biltmore blocks used throughout the property, and they were crafted from the hotel ground itself.
At check-in, I was told that I would be staying in one of the newer, larger rooms in one of the resort's buildings that were added later. I requested to stay in a smaller room in the property's original historic building. I mean -- how often do I get to stay in Frank Lloyd Wright building? (Like, never.) This was the staircase that I took to my third floor room each. I am still swooning.
Even the unusually cold and rainy weather in Scottsdale could not dampen my spirits!
Taliesin means "shining brow" in Welsh.
At the original Taliesin, and at the property in Scottsdale, Wright chose to build the structure as a "brow" on the hill, not on the top of the hill, so that the structure sits within the landscape, not on top of it.
Our visit to Taliesin West was made all the more special by a recently installed Chihuly exhibit. The amount of Dale Chihuly sculptures on the property was truly epic!
Taliesein West was a living studio + workshop, where apprentice architects living and working on property. Many built make-shift shelters, or lived in tents, all across the property's desert landscape.
What I didn't know what that Mr. Wright had his own cabaret on property! Apprentice architects were expected to entertain clients in this space, movies were screened, and other events occurred. The cabaret had a grotto-like feeling, carved into the hillside desertscape.
Any architect who has his own bar + cabaret on property is tops in my book. Just when I thought FLW couldn't get any cooler, he somehow did.
Dinner at Taliesin West
Our private tour was made all the more special with a pre-dinner conversation with Mr. Wright’s great grand-daughter, the fabulous interior designer Melissa Galt. Melissa is also a respected interior design coach and someone whom I admire a great deal. She told entertaining stories of Thanksgiving dinners at Taliesin West (with her mother, the actress Anne Baxter) and gave us some great business advise, at the same time.
My magical evening capped off with a private dinner inside the Wright Pavilion, seated next to the head of the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation. (I was thinking, like, wait, what?) Someone pinch me to make sure I’m not dreaming.