Lots included in the December auction span primarily those two projects and include the executive desk chair and executive armchair chair from the SC Johnson project and windows from the Meyer home. The auction also features original drawings Wright made when he was designing furniture for both projects, including blueprints for an officer’s chair from the SC Johnson Building and the sofa and living room table from the Meyer home.
“This is the first opportunity to purchase business related to the Meyer May House and likely the only opportunity to acquire a desk or chair of this type designed for the SC Johnson & Son Administration Building,” says Jefferson. Both projects represent a vastly different moment in the architects’ career. The Meyer House is a prime example of the Prairie School era, an earlier moment in the architect’s profession when commissions most often came from the upper middle class. Overall these properties feature hip roofs with tall eaves, glazed band windows and strong horizontal lines. Wright designed many apartment buildings in this style for about 15 years in the early 1900s before shifting focus to more Democratic architecture. On the other hand, the SC Johnson Building is Wright’s corporate masterpiece and to this day is considered one of the most remarkable American offices in existence. “Sale is an example of the development of Frank Lloyd Wright’s genius over decades,” says Jefferson.
The sale will be split into 12 lots, with each lot being auctioned separately. Steelcase says it plans to use some of the auction proceeds to invest in works from underrepresented minority and international artists so that its corporate art collection can continue to reflect the diversity and global culture of today. For Wright fans, the sale represents a unique opportunity to own not only the completed business, but the working business as well. “Our pieces—drawings, windows, and furniture—show the process Frank Lloyd Wright and his clients used to produce masterpieces,” says Jefferson.