By Russell Flinchum
At the New York School of Interior Design on May 6 the Manitoga Design Industry Council convened a panel, “Russel Wright—The Growing Relevance of Organic Modernism,” that included landscape architect Carol Franklin; noted textile designer, author, and collector Jack Lenor Larsen; and mid-century furniture designer Jens Risom to discuss the relevance of Russel Wright on today’s design environment.
This panel, which was moderated by Donald Albrecht, curator at the Museum of the City of New York, and Katy Moss Warner, president emeritus of the American Horticulture Society, served effectively as a celebration of Dragon Rock (Wright’s home built into the site of a former quarry) and Manitoga (the larger site of 75 acres Wright acquired in 1942) located near Garrison, New York. Albrecht, who curated an exhibition on Wright at the Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum, in 2001, provided an overview of Russel and Mary Wright’s non-elitist aesthetic of “casual elegance”—epitomized by Wright’s iconic American Modern dinnerware. He discussed Wright’s career as a series of concentric and evolving circles, beginning with Wright’s early experience with set design and ending with Wright as an environmental designer as seen through his intricate series of pathways and constructed views at Manitoga.
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