Monday, August 31, 2009

Savoir Faire Quote of the Day

“Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful”

So said William Morris, architect, furniture and textile designer, artist, writer, socialist and Marxist.

Lofty words for a Marxist!

Imperial Savoir Faire

Checking into the old Imperial Hotel Tokyo before it was demolished in 1968 to make way for the new building of the new hotel was to partake in a piece of architectural history with tons of savoir faire added into the experience. This was perhaps the most famous of Frank Lloyd Wright’s commercial projects in the world and one of his most stunning! I am a long admirer of Wright as he pushed the architectural boundaries of his era creating whole concepts of buildings that were timeless and beautiful and full of architectural merit.

Wright’s version of the hotel was completed in 1923 to replace the old wooden structure of the 1890’s and was designed in the “Maya Revival Style” which was one of Wright’s trademarks and blended in perfectly with the Japanese style of architecture.

"But in its scale, and in its play with surprise elements, the Imperial Hotel is completely Japanese. Wright was apparently so struck by the smallest of Japanese things that he made everything in the Imperial Hotel tiny...There were little terraces and little courts, infinitely narrow passages suddenly opening into large two- or three-storey spaces;...And there were many different levels, both inside the rooms and outside the buildings, including connecting bridges between the two long, parallel wings of guest-rooms. Finally, Wright achieved something almost unheard of in hotel design: in this most standardized of all fields of cubicle architecture he succeeded in making almost every guest-room different from every other."

(Peter Blake. Frank Lloyd Wright: Architecture and Space)

Testament to Wright’s style and engineering the hotel remained virtually unscathed during the 1923 earthquake which destroyed most of Tokyo and Yokohama.

Exterior and interior didn’t escape Wright’s design aesthetic, and as a whole a perfect example of the Wright’s style. Wright designed every detail of the hotel right down to the notepaper. It almost seems that this could be a prototype for today’s concept hotels like the Missoni in Edinburgh.

Unfortunately demolished in 1968 to make way for the new Imperial Hotel in 2005 the hotel in collaboration with the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation opened a suite in his honour. The suite utilises original design motifs as well as replicas of his furniture. It is the world's only suite to combine the unique architectural plans of the Wright Hotel with interior designs created by Wright for private residencies during the same era. The hotel has also incorporated elements of Wright’s style throughout the hotel such as the magnificent entrance below.

Luckily the facade and pool were moved to The Museum Meiji Mura, a collection of buildings (mostly from the Meiji Era) in Inuyama, near Nagoya.

So for some architectural savoir faire this is the only way to go!
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