Frank Lloyd Wright's Stained Glass: A Legacy of Beauty and Spirituality

Posted by Victoria Primicias on

Frank Lloyd Wright was an American architect recognized for his distinct style, creative ideas, and the use of stained glass windows to mirror beauty, elegance, and spirituality in his buildings and residential projects. In this post, we'll take a closer look at Wright's stained glass windows as well as their significance.

The Importance of Stained Glass in Wright's Designs

Several of Frank Lloyd Wright's structures, such as the landmark Robie House in Chicago and the Unity Temple in Oak Park, incorporated stained glass. 

Wright's design goal was to achieve balance between the natural and manmade environments. He believed that using natural light and colors would contribute to this harmony. His use of stained glass was not only a stylistic preference but also a means of connecting the natural world outside to his interior spaces. He was especially fascinated by how sunlight filtered through the glass, producing a dance of light and shadow that added to the overall ambiance.

Robie House stained glass window
Robie House stained glass window (Photo: University of Chicago)

Other examples showcasing Wright's use of stained glass include the Ward W. Willits House, Avery Coonley Playhouse, and the Hollyhock House. He believed that employing colored glass added depth and warmth to his projects. His color palette was often muted, creating a subtle yet powerful impact. Wright was also known for conceiving his own stained glass patterns, ensuring that each window was one-of-a-kind and fitted to the building for which it was created.

Ward W. Willits House dining room with stained glass
Ward W. Willits House dining room (Photo: Home Design Board)
Avery Coonley Playhouse with stained glass windows via Crain's Business Journal
Avery Coonley Playhouse (Photo: Crain's Chicago Business)
Hollyhock House stained glass windows by Frank Lloyd Wright
Hollyhock House (Photo: Alexander Vertikoff for Judson Studios)

Wright's Most Famous Stained Glass Window

The Tree of Life window at Buffalo's Darwin D. Martin House is one of Frank Lloyd Wright's most adored stained glass windows. The window is a superb example of Wright's inventive use of stained glass. The design itself features a tree with branches that reach out toward the window's edges, creating a sense of movement and life. The subtle hues of greens, blues, and browns provide a natural and organic atmosphere. Considered one of Wright's most striking designs, the Tree of Life window continues to inspire and influence designers today.

Darwin D. Martin House via martinhouse.orgThe Darwin D. Martin House, photo via
Frank Lloyd Wright's Tree of Life window
Closeup of the Tree of Life stained glass window
Reception room of the Darwin D. Martin House
Reception Room of the Darwin D. Martin House

The Symbolism of Stained Glass in Wright's Architecture

Wright believed that stained glass offered a spiritual element to his structures in addition to being visually pleasing. In his creations, he frequently used geometric shapes and patterns that he believed symbolized the natural world and the universe. With its intricate patterns and colors, stained glass added to the symbolism and provided a sense of oneness between the building and its surroundings. The use of stained glass was particularly significant in Wright's Unity Temple since it was intended to create an environment of calm and tranquillity.

Unity Temple stained glass by Frank Lloyd Wright
Unity Temple stained glass windows and ceiling (Photo: Lillibeth M. on Foursquare)

Wright's use of stained glass mirrored his fascination with Japanese art and culture. He was especially taken with the usage of the shoji screen in traditional Japanese architecture, which he incorporated into his own designs. He believed that creating a similar effect with stained glass was achievable since light passed through the glass and created patterns of light and shadow on the walls of his buildings.

Traditional Japanese house showing the shoji screen (©Fukuzumiro
A traditional Japanese house with shoji screens (Photo: Fuzuzumiro Space via Japan Objects)

The Legacy of Wright's Stained Glass Windows

Frank Lloyd Wright's use of stained glass was a distinct approach to color and pattern that stretched beyond architecture, impacting the worlds of art and design in general. His creations have been regarded as "poetry in glass" — a monument to his inventive mind and novel design philosophy.

Stained glass was more than just an artistic choice for Wright; it was a method for him to connect his structures with the natural surroundings and create an aura of peace and tranquility. He believed that stained glass imparted a sense of spirituality and depth to his structures, and his windows are still celebrated for their beauty and symbolism.

Today, many of Wright's original stained glass designs are still in use, and they continue to influence architects and designers. His legacy lives on through his stained glass works, ensuring that his impact on the world of art and design will be felt by future generations.

About Primi Mosaics

Primi Mosaics creates stained glass mirrors that salute the past while enhancing the modern lifestyle. Inspired by turn-of-the-century designs of the Arts and Crafts movement, Prairie-style and Art Deco, these mosaic mirrors bring a unique style and elegance to both modern and traditional decor. See some decorative mirrors influenced by Frank Lloyd Wright now.