Day Trip: Manitoga, The Russel Wright Design Center

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Manitoga is the home of the late Russel Wright, the formidable mid-century, industrial

designer, and is open to the public for guided tours. Spanning 75 acres in Garrison, New

York, Russel and his wife Mary purchased the land in 1941, in the heart of the Hudson

Valley, as a sanctuary away from the city. They spent over 30 years restoring the

landscape, which had previously been used as a quarry, and Wright collaborated with

Architect David Leavitt on the design for the house and studio, which were completed in

the 1960's.

 

Photo by Tara Wing via Manitoga

 

Built into the rock cliff above the quarry, the unconventional, organic and modern glass

house is designed to blend into the natural landscape, and manifests the Wright's desire

to live in harmony with nature. 

Wright's experience as a set designer certainly influenced his approach to restoring the

landscape, and the gardens transport you into his particular vision of world. Following

secret trails through the woods, you're introduced to Wright's concept of outdoor rooms,

carpeted in lush moss and hidden by walls of trees. An early proponent of ecological

design, Wright landscaped the estate only with plants that are native to the area. 

 

 

 

Shortly after the house was completed, Russel Wright moved into his studio and left the

house for his daughter to use. Possessions, like old cigarettes and books, remain scattered 

around making it feel as if he were working there that very morning. Pine needles painted

into the ceiling and the white birch bark wallpaper remind us of Wright's dedication to

melding the built and natural environments. 

 

The bedroom and office in the studio are divided by a bookshelf. Image by Rob Penner via Manitoga 

 

View of his office in the studio. Image by Tara Wing via Manitoga

 

  

Guest room in the studio. Image by Tara Wing via Manitoga
 

The gorgeous wood framed bathtub in studio.

 

 

Artwork by Peter Byrum, Artist-in-Residence, currently on display until November 2016. 

 

 

The vine covered pergola that covers the path from house to studio.

 

 

View of the dining room in the house, from above.

 

The Wrights' original dinnerware. 

 

The dinnerware that the Wrights designed set a standard for high quality American made

products, and established them as early modern tastemakers. Their designs were informed 

by their belief that good design should be accessible to everyone, that we should live simply

but live well, and they revolutionized the way Americans lived and organized their homes

in the mid 20th century.

 

View of the kitchen, dining room, patio from above. 

  

The living room in the house with its simple, modern furniture. Image via Manitoga

  

 

The spellbinding bathtub in the main house, which is fed with water from an outside waterfall and hidden by
doors embedded with flowers and butterflies. 

 

 

 

The details in the house are what really make it magical. The property still serves as a

sanctuary away from the city, and we totally recommend visiting for a tour as the perfect

late-summer respite. For more information, or to book a tour: visitmanitoga.org