In a stunning November 15 feature, Curbed’s Patrick Sisson digs deep
into the design legacy of one of metro Detroit’s most important cultural institutions, the Cranbrook Academy of Art. From its handling of the school’s origins to its profiles of its most famous faculty and students (names like Eames, Saarinen, Rapson, and Knoll), this piece is a must-read for any lover of modern design.
The legend of the Cranbrook Academy of Art, and its role as a prewar petri dish for American modernism, revolves around the brief period of time from roughly 1937 to 1941. Ray, Charles, and a host of future architects and designers crossed in and out of each other’s paths, studying and teaching at the wooded campus roughly 25 miles north of Detroit. But Cranbrook’s singularity didn’t just stem from its collection of talent. An experiment in education by founder George Booth, a wealthy industrialist, his wife Ellen, and Eliel Saarinen, an eminent Finnish architect who designed the campus and served as the first president, Cranbrook was a new institution, a modern arts colony that reflected the times. The philosophies that Ray and her classmates picked up there could be considered the DNA of modern design: cross-disciplinary thought, organic forms, and a fidelity to experimentation and research.
Read more: Curbed