S.C. Johnson Administration Building
Frank Lloyd Wright consulted closely with Steelcase in the development of new forms of desks and chairs, conceived as modular units that further expressed the principles at work in the architecture of the S.C. Johnson and Son Administration Building in Racine, Wis., and supported the work styles of its employees.
It was an early venture into creating a total, integrated office environment. Wright invited David Hunting, Sr., secretary and an owner of Steelcase (then Metal Office Furniture Company), to Taliesin in Spring Green in November, 1936, for a preliminary discussion. Later they met in Racine with Johnson executives. Wright made rough sketches on a piece of paper from his pocket. Steelcase’s engineering department then translated them into preliminary drawings, which Wright modified until he was satisfied. A total of 40 different pieces were designed, including nine variations of the basic desk to accommodate different tasks.
In a 1985 interview, Hunting said,
“Wright really thought about all the different kinds of work that goes on in an office before he began thinking specifically about furniture… Wright once said something about creativity that impressed me so much, I followed on it from then on. He talked about not just making an improvement, but solving the basic need in the best possible way.”
The furniture is still in use at the Johnson headquarters, and in the years since Steelcase has continued to keep in sight the goals shared with Wright, transforming the ways people work through a human-centered design philosophy.
A Shared Heritage, A New Collection by Steelcase
June 2022, Grand Rapids, Michigan. Steelcase and the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation are joining in a new creative collaboration that ranges from launching reintroductions of iconic pieces to newly authored designs rooted in Frank Lloyd Wright’s principles.
Through scale and materiality, the Frank Lloyd Wright Racine Collection our first products to be introduced, reinterprets the furniture for how we live and work today.
We’re drawing on the Foundation’s Archives and Wright’s design principles for aspiration and inspiration, to create ongoing collections of fine Frank Lloyd Wright-inspired furnishings, and to come, textiles and wall coverings, that evolve from the legendary to the unexpected. As we revisit, reintroduce, and reinterpret Wright’s work for the world he envisioned, we believe there’s never been a more meaningful time to draw from a master who was always ahead of his time.
Learn more about this new collection and sign up to receive updates.