Frank Lloyd Wright’s Hollyhock House blooms with an ikebana installation

Spring has sprung at Frank Lloyd Wright’s Hollyhock House in Los Angeles, where a new installation featuring ikebana, a Japanese practice of flower arrangements, has reanimated the landmark home. Ravi GuneWardena: Ikebana for Hollyhock House decorates Wright’s interiors with expressive flower arrangements.

An ode to California, Hollyhock House is Los Angeles’s only UNESCO World Heritage site and the renowned architect’s first commission in the city. Built simultaneously with Tokyo’s Imperial Hotel, Wright’s Hollyhock House carries Japanese art and design influences throughout the site, setting the perfect stage for the Japanese flower arranging art.

“The placement of an ikebana arrangement can inform and define the work itself. The light and space of Hollyhock House appear to have been designed with this art form in mind,” architect and ikebana practitioner Ravi GuneWardena said in a statement. He mastered the art under the tutelage of Haruko Takeichi in the Sogetsu School of Ikebana, and has worked to expand the visibility of ikebana as a contemporary art.

Ravi GuneWardena mastered the Japanese flower arranging art in the Sogetsu School of Ikebana, bringing his masterful pieces to Hollyhock House. (Hiroshi Clark)

GuneWardena’s floral arrangements reference those of Aline Barnsdall, Hollyhock House’s original resident during the 1920s, paying homage to her use of placement, mass, and scale. The arrangements display a mix of influences, including the centuries-old traditional ikebana practices, and the more modern approach of the Sogetsu School that challenges tradition through innovative materials to celebrate freedom of individual expression. Through this, GuneWardena engages with Wright’s gesamtkunstwerk interiors, setting the flower arrangements as new focal points in dialogue with Wright’s holistic site, where art and architecture coexist as one.

Flower arrangements inside Frank Lloyd Wright’s interiors.
Using dried plat material, GuneWardena creates expressive flower arrangements. (Hiroshi Clark)

The vibrant dried flower arrangements play with scale, some arrangements catch the eye with its long vertical composition of light materials, juxtaposed against the more ornate artworks in the house. In the house’s more minimal rooms, shorter yet colorful arrangements pop against the muted natural tones of the site’s interiors.

A flower arrangement by Ravi GuneWardena with a limewash green background.
GuneWardena’s arrangements seamlessly blend into Wright’s interiors, while still sticking out for its vibrant hues. (Hiroshi Clark)

The UNESCO World Heritage Site will also host special events for visitors to engage with the installation. From April 18 to 20, the site will house a limited exhibition of works by the Sogetsu School of Ikebana, featuring 30 fresh-flower arrangements with the season’s finest blooms. On April 20, free ikebana demonstrations will be presented to the public by four high-ranking Sogetsu masters at the Barnsdall Gallery Theatre.

GuneWardena’s dried arrangements installation will be off-view during the special events, but will be available for the public viewing through fall 2024.

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