Textiles in the Farnsworth House
Updated January 31, 2022
In the new year, a focus emerges toward paring down our linens and other home textiles to just the essentials. We also can venture more freely indoors and out, bask in the light, and live with less. All these pleasures are encapsulated perfectly into the Farnsworth House by Mies Van der Rohe. This home is an iconic example of modern architecture that was built in 1951 along the banks of the Fox River in Plano, Illinois.
It was the summer home of Dr. Edith Farnsworth, a Chicago-based physician who made the trip each weekend from the City in order to decompress from the stresses of daily life. This glass home is a marvel. The way the house floats, the way the glass walls blend with the environment, and the absence of ornamentation creates an experience which is the closest thing we know to indoor camping.
Something also extraordinary about this home is the use of linens and home textiles, or more appropriately, the un-use of linens. Home textiles should follow the lead of the architecture and interior style of a home. In this home, the use of textiles is also minimal, favoring white bed linens and curtains so as to not distract in color from the ongoing seasonal tableaux from outside. This approach toward using just the essentials allows the home's architecture to remain the focal point of the interior experience.
White curtains around the perimeter of the home function as a moveable and flexible wall which adds to the wonderful fluidity of the interior experience. The fabric also adds some softness to the spaces, which counter balances the home's hard edges, use of steel, and minimalism.
In the main living space and in the bedroom, pillows are used in a similar way as the curtains providing a little color, softness, movability, and comfort. Rugs are also present in these spaces -- encouraging human touch and interaction and connection to the physical world.
Textiles in the home are the connections between the soft humanity of people and the hard materials and spaces created by architecture. The two need each other, even in spaces such as the Farnsworth House, where although the home textiles play a secondary role, they are essential.
Farnsworth House is a great example of how great beauty, spirituality, and peace are created where architecture and interior linens are considered as a partnership. As we move toward warmer days, this pared down approach will definitely be on the mind.
More information on the Farnsworth House can be found at www.farnsworthhouse.org.