Fallingwater was more than a house for both the Kaufmann family and for its designer Frank Lloyd Wright. For the Kaufmanns, owners of Kaufmann's Department Store in Pittsburgh, the home was a way to unwind from their hectic life. The Kaufmanns were committed to living in harmony with nature, and wanted a house that reflected that. In a letter to Wright, Edgar Kaufmann Jr said:
"Will you build a place of prayer at Bear Run? All three of us would like a focus of attention for the spiritual reality which we know underlies life and work and the joys we share here. Nature is the great restorer, concentrated here to balance our city living. The dignity and beauty of your architecture gives us a way of life in and with nature, beyond our best dreams. Mother brings a choice of flowers and foods and comforts, Father brings broad scope of action and activities, and I some ideas and music; all this combines into a rich life for which we are grateful and humbly so."
Wright had a concept of "organic architecture", where harmony between man and nature could be captured and expressed through buildings. His goal was to integrate a design so fully with the surrounding area that the structure and nature would become one. He was in his mid 60s when he was given the commission to build Fallingwater, and was viewed by the architectural community as being out of touch with the times. His unique perspective on architecture and the equally unique desires of the Kaufmann family created a masterpiece.
Wright also designed much of the furnishings for the home. He created 169 pieces of walnut furniture, designed specifically to fit into Fallingwater. The rest of the house is furnished eclectically, with art and treasures collected from the family's travels.
Fallingwater is open to the public today. Edgar Kaufmann Jr. gave the house to the Western Pennsylvania Conservancyin 1963, and it is the only major Wright creation available to the public. The original furnishings, art, and books are still in the house.
Fallingwater is arguably Wright's best attempt to unite nature, architecture, and human life into a structure.
On a personal and kind of strange note; I dreamed of Fallingwater before I knew of its existence. I told my then boss about this strange building that I'd dreamed of in such detail, and he immediately got out a book showing pictures of Frank Lloyd Wrights designs. The house he showed me, while not exactly that of my dream, was so close that i got goose bumps. This is the only time I've ever experienced this kind of event. It sure piqued my interest in Wright and Fallingwater.