For a collaboration with the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation, Maya Brenner has created two collections of pendants and earrings that honor the iconic architect’s use of light and geometric shapes.
Brenner, a longtime Wright admirer, says working with the foundation was a personal and professional thrill. The Los Angeles–based jewelry designer debuted the collections, named Virtues and Racine, on Oct. 18; retail prices range from $168 to $248. Brenner says she made the Wright jewelry in gold vermeil and sterling silver so it could be accessibly priced, and she hopes customers find all six pieces from the collaboration to be versatile, wearable must-haves.
“When we got an email in May of 2022 from the jewelry branding and licensing division that represents his foundation inquiring if we had interest in collaborating, my literal response back to my team was one word, ‘OMG,’” Brenner says.
“Twenty years ago I read a biography about him, and I was blown away to learn about both his professional and personal life, and it stayed with me all these years,” Brenner says. “Plus, I’ve lived close to a few houses he designed in Los Angeles and was in awe that he was creating masterpieces like this in the 1920s. So ahead of his time!”
The Virtues collection features four unisex necklaces that reflect Wright’s Organic Commandment, a set of principles that guided his work and highlight the geometric shapes he adored. The circle and triangle pendant designs come from the “Jewelry Shop Window” and “Desert Triangles” covers that Wright created for Liberty magazine in the 1920s. A mural at Midway Gardens in Chicago inspired the rectangle pendant, and the square necklace got its design from one of Wright’s tile sketches.
“Once we started the collaboration process, we had access to tons of materials and archives. As soon as I saw his Organic Commandments of design, I knew that this would be the inspiration for our Virtues collection,” Brenner says. “They were simple yet so poetic and can be applied to all areas of life. We use meaning and personalization in much of our jewelry, so it just made sense.”
For the Racine collection, Brenner’s primary influence was the Wright-designed SC Johnson Administration Building in Racine, Wis. The necklace and hoop earrings are tributes to the building‘s skylights, which Wright said were supposed to make employees feel like they were working in a forest, with sunlight streaming down.
“I’m obsessed with Frank Lloyd Wright’s use of skylights” Brenner says. “He was able to use many kinds of glass components providing natural light into a space, creating connection to the outdoor environment. I wanted to try to capture that open-air feeling in a piece of jewelry.
“I’m a creative person, so any kind of design work is inspiring,” says Brenner. “I’ve always been attracted to color and shapes, and I love how Frank Lloyd Wright utilized those so masterfully.
“His vision—‘To make life more beautiful, the world a better one for living in, and to give rhyme, reason, and meaning to life’—really hits home for me, and I thought it would resonate with our customers as well.”
Wright established his foundation in 1940 to preserve two of his projects, Taliesin and Taliesin West, as well as to “inspire society through an understanding and experience” of his ideas for architecture and design, according to the foundation’s website.
Top: Pendants in the Virtues collection from L.A. jewelry designer Maya Brenner’s collaboration with the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation are engraved with key words from Wright’s Organic Commandment. (Photos courtesy of Maya Brenner)@jckmagazine
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