Frank Lloyd Wright-style PC case

207.jpg The Usonian is a computer enclosure designed in the architectural style of Frank Lloyd Wright, with window walls modeled on the Bachman-Wilson house. Creator Jeffrey Stephenson (previously, previously) adds: "The colors are FLW's favorite, Cherokee Red, and Covered Wagon, the color of Falling Water's cantilevered balconies." Usonian [Slipperyskip]


  1. It’s ugly as all hell. There’s more to a finish than Wright’s favorite colors. And lines don’t hold up at that small scale. Blech!

    1. This is pretty much EXACTLY what I came in here to say. Especially the part about scale.

    2. Compared to this one I’d have to agree with you. That other one (to me) is just computer case sex, I think the problem is this is transparent, making it too busy, if the perspex was solid I think it’d go a long way.

    1. Antinous wins Teh Architectures for the day! And not only does a Wright building leak, it tends to need a lot of routine maintenance to keep it from collapsing (window putty and roof flashing in particular.)

      On the other hand, while Wright’s ceilings or doorways were often annoyingly too low, letting him gloat about people who weren’t short having to duck their heads in his buildings, PC cases being small aren’t a bad thing as long as they’ve got good airflow.

      1. FLW was, in essence, a brilliant decorator. There are basically two schools of architectural theory: “Form Follows Function” and “Ooooh Shiny”; FLW was in the latter. Unfortunately, his popularity has influenced innumerable architects who make good-looking, totally non-functional buildings.

        1. I think (as Bluebottle points out) to a large extent modern materials and methods have caught up to FLW’s designs, so that a Prairie-style or Usonian house designed today would be able to not be so suboptimal to live in. I have certainly seen a number of contemporary Prairie designs that were quite liveable and low-maintenance.

        2. Wright remade the concept of space in the twentieth century. You are looking at his decorative details and assuming that is all there is but it was his spatial imagination that captivated the European architecture community and was the reason for his tremendous influence. He also trained Schindler, Neutra and Lautner, European expats, who continue to have a strong influence to this day. In addition there are not two schools of architectural thought, there are hundreds. Wright has very little direct influence today but his spatial ideas are appropriated by thousands of architects.

        3. Unfortunately, his popularity has influenced innumerable architects who make good-looking, totally non-functional buildings.

          Be fair – he also influenced innumerable architects who make ugly and totally non-functional buildings.

  2. That’s beautiful as hell. An iPad should look that cool.

    And it even appears to include Frank Lloyd Wright’s trademark leaky roof!

  3. The actual wooden case is gorgeous and I have no problem with the overall design.
    The problem I have is that it’s like putting lipstick on a pig – the way the Windows computer unit
    pops through and ruins everything is a little disappointing. Can’t the design be reimagined as a small end table or elaborate wooden step stool?

  4. A PC case, how. . .quaint.

    first of all: get yourself a laptop.

    Next: make an intricate narwhale horn and lama teeth, chalcedony and sapphire design in a mandelbrot perfection

    then pay someone in a foreign land to make a copy out of polymers

    and I’ll buy one for $39.99

    (I’m not talking about the ungulate type of llama, either.)

    1. Even in this day and age, a laptop is a computing compromise. Slow, unreliable, and un-upgradeable. How trite.

      1. Hey gwailo_joe, some of us still enjoy poking around in the guts of our computers. And fix them when they’re broke. I’ve owned plenty of laptops, but none has ever outperformed the big, clunky PC I’m using now to write this comment. It’s here at home, when I get here. I don’t have to worry about dropping it, losing it or getting a new battery for it.

        As far as the Frank Lloyd case is concerned. Its beautiful. And I don’t care if it leaks. :D


        1. yup: I’m a total end user.

          Installing a garbage disposal or changing oil in my vehicle: I can fuddle around.

          But this thing?? I can barely figure out the basics, much less the programming aspect

          The little nuts and bolts and wires and fans: yeah, I can respect that. (but I can’t do it)

          Thus my laptop gives convenience and portability with that Mac ease of use: it works for me.

          Hell: I LIKE the workmanship of the case: I’m installing crown moulding in my living room right now: working with wood can be fun, tools are cool. . .

          perhaps I was hasty in my dismissal of the PC tower. Perhaps.

          yet please I beg of you: no jobs vs gates. . .it’s all cyber love yo

          I ~am~ hella trite tho’ :D

          1. Thank you. I appreciate and enjoyed your response.
            And no… no jobs vs gates, I was bored with that years ago.
            Let us know how your crown molding comes out. :D

  5. “…a bleedin’ chrome handle on a buggy whip. . .!”

    sorry, just hatin’.

    it’s nice work. . .not quick to make.

  6. I work in a leaky Cherokee Red FLW building. Sometimes I feel like I’m the only one at work who realizes it.

  7. Get a pdf copy of big Rudin on the hard drive and it’ll be the new “Rudin Residence.”

  8. What, not water cooled by a slowly cascading stream? And shouldn’t the optical drive be thrust out, supported only by it’s will power to stay attached to the case. BTW, the support columns at the corners, that’s were the windows go.

  9. That is the equivalent of putting a number and a fin on your car and calling it a Formula 1. FLW was more than a few recognizable colors and shapes. He knew good massing and proportion, for one, and how to turn a corner with a material for another. This thing has a facade that turns the corner only to clunkily peter out. FLW’s buildings did leak, but that had a lot more to do with a flat roofing industry and a sealant industry that couldn’t yet do what he wanted to do, and what we all do now as a matter of routine. FLW also famously had some low ceilings, but only in transitional spaces like entry ways; the compression of space only served to heighten the experience of expansion in the main living spaces. I’m no disciple, but to dismiss him as “oooh shiny” shows unfamiliarity. For the most part his designs were highly functional.

  10. Oh yeah and I forgot to say. I’m sorry, but I enjoy FLW’s work. I know there are many problems with his designs, and I’ve heard that he could be a less-than reasonable person to deal with.

    But looking at his stuff makes my eyeballs feel good. That is all.

  11. what i’m looking for is one that looks more like a mid-90s mcmansion, with slate grey vinyl clapboards and USB thumb drives that resemble primary-colored toddler play equipment.

  12. OK, I’ll admit up front that I own pictures (and in some cases, architectural drawings) of every Frank Lloyd Wright building ever made, and several that weren’t. So obviously I enjoy his work.

    And I will also admit that the man stole pianos and wives from his customers, and built that disgracefully low-roofed college esplanade, and in general had a too-low ceiling in at least one area of at least two thirds of his designs. He was an egomaniac who believed that “great” men should not be held to the same standards as “normals” (a viewpoint I have seen on boingboing more than a few times, and one I do not share) and this is reflected in some of his work.

    But he was still the second or third greatest American architect of all time, at least so far. An egotistical and vain man, yes, but a true visionary, and his visions were worth realizing even if you wouldn’t necessarily want to live in one.

    Personally, I’d love to own the second Jacobs house, despite the indoor/outdoor pond and the fact that you’d probably have to clean the stone interior walls with a powerful leaf blower. I’d even more love to build a house inspired by that design; and I think that’s where FLW’s value to modern architects and designers lies. He broke the molds in a way that Greene & Greene, Louis Sullivan, and Frank Furness really didn’t – despite the greater utility of those architects’ buildings – and Wright’s work can be either a vital seed for more refined implementations or an inspiring catalyst for further innovation.

  13. Devil’s in the details: where are the sumac leaves in the side windows?
    Leaky case aside, FLW would have sold this as “keeps your tower cooler than any other case and is better looking than any case ever designed before it. Why? because it was designed by me, Frank.”
    He was kinda crotchety in his old age…

  14. let me pile on with the “um, no. The evil genius himself never would have designed this.” Wright did a fair amount of small scale design, particularly lamps. This is a nice example:

    The second image down here shows a FLW design for a desk and associated objects, which gives you a feel for what Wright would have done for a PC case, had such a thing existed in his day:

    I can certainly tell you that he wouldn’t have made a scaled down model of a part of a building, then stuck stuff inside it.

    1. Good to know. I didn’t realize I was trying to build a case that attempted to emulated what an FLW designed computer would look like. We must have a different definition of “inspired by”. I’m a hobbyist. I take risks with no downside other than to be subjected to snarky ill-informed commenters on public forums. That’s why most places like this don’t like to publish articles about products that aren’t for sale. The profit motive would prevent me from telling everyone to KMA. :)

      1. We’re all subject to that risk ;).

        I very much enjoy your work, Mr. Stephenson, and this piece is no exception. Thank you for posting your galleries online!

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