Into the Belly of Dragon Rock
Exploring the pioneering and collaborative spirit of American designer Russel Wright’s home and studio.
American designer Russel Wright’s (1904-1976) home and studio, entitled “Dragon Rock,” could be mistaken for such by the absent-minded passerby. On its rocky perch in the verdant Hudson Valley, Dragon Rock lives up to its name: its stone, wood, and glass exterior is reminiscent of an ancient slumbering beast, interrupted only by flashes of modernism. Dragon Rock—also referred to as Manitoga, when referencing the home, studio, and surrounding 75-acre landscape—was developed from 1942 to 1976 by Wright in partnership with architect David Leavitt (1918-2013), with the intention of creating a dialogue between the artificial and organic.
Wandering inside the belly of Dragon Rock, that conversation comes to life: The stone upon which the home sits creeps to its interior; deep sage and cream plaster walls, accented with beams of cedarwood, give way to large expanses of glass in the kitchen and sitting area. There, a smooth cedar tree trunk is used as structural support, blurring the divide between the home and the waterfall and quarry pool just beyond. Dragon Rock is an extension of the landscape, rather than an interruption of it.
Beyond being an architectural marvel, Manitoga uses its space to celebrate and collaborate with artists of all disciplines, who are inspired by Manitoga’s design philosophy. Most recently, Manitoga partnered with Formafantasma, an Italian design studio founded by Andrea Trimarchi and Simone Farresin. Formafantasma curated a selection of objects seen in Dragon Rock, where organic shapes and natural fibers abound.
Over the breakfast table hangs a cluster of irregularly shaped pendants, their likeness hovering somewhere between magical river rocks and mystical fruit hanging from the trunk of cedar. In the studio, a bird soars across a circular woven rug, which is held together with wooden fastens. No matter where you turn, every carefully chosen piece further engages with Manitoga’s melding of design and nature.
Text by Violet Goldstone. Photos by Michael Biondo. Courtesy of Manitoga / Michael Biondo Photography.