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
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.