A Lamp With A View

John Lautner, Frank Lloyd Wright, and the Sturges Residence

Interior of the Sturges Residence, c. 1989. Photo by Alan Weintraub.


Considered to be the most important Los Angeles collaboration of architects Frank Lloyd Wright and his protege John Lautner, the George D. Sturges Residence was completed in 1939. Positioned on a hilly plot in the city's Brentwood neighborhood, which the Sturgeses purchased a year earlier for ten dollars, the residence is considered Wright's "California Usonian." In keeping Wright's vision of the Usonian home, the Sturges residence was built with a small footprint, flat roofs, cantilevered overhangs, and a carport, as well as a large panoramic deck. "Wright had deputized his recent Taliesin disciple, John Lautner, to complete final details of the design and to supervise construction," explained UCLA architecture scholar Thomas Hine. 

As such, Lautner was fully entrenched in the design and construction of the Sturges residence, integrating his own customizations and custom furniture, including the present lot. As Hine noted, "Both Wright and Lautner created specially designed furniture and other accoutrements, such as lamps." Even though the Sturgeses would leave in 1951 due to an unexpected-but-welcome pregnancy, Lautner in particular maintained a longterm connection to the structure and its residents. He returned to help make repairs the home in 1941, and was commissioned to make the present lot in the mid-1960s. Upon the home's purchase in 1969 by Hollywood couple Jack Larson and James Bridges, Lautner was summoned to oversee the houses's restoration over the course of several years. 

This particular style of Lautner-designed lamp is well-documented throughout the history of the Sturges Residence. In situ, it harmonized with the Wright-designed Origami chair and was light enough that residents could easily reposition it as needed, since natural light only entered the interior from one side. 

Interior view of the George D. Sturges Residence (1939). Photo by Grant Mudford.

Blueprint of Frank Lloyd Wright's early concept for the Sturges Residence with wooden supports, 1938. Copyright Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation.