Category Archives: Cranbrook

Saarinen House and Garden: A Total Work of Art

Saarinen House and Garden: A Total Work of ArtEdited by Gregory Wittkopp and Diana Balmori (1995)
Certainly one of the most overlooked works of modern architecture, the Saarinen house, which this book documents in splendid detail, is perhaps the crowning work of Finnish architect Eliel Saarinen during his years at Cranbrook. Thanks to the recent restoration of the house and garden, we can now see his vision of TOTAL design; from the flatware to the tapestries to the furniture to the door handle to the landscape.

Posted in architecture, art, Cranbrook, design, history

Cranbrook Design: The New Discourse

Cranbrook DesignBy Katherine and Michael McCoy (1990)
A book that documents Cranbrook’s Design Department faculty, student, and alumni work from 1980-1990. Although not defined by a style, the Cranbrook design philosophy has been influential in product, graphic and furniture design. Products have been treated as sensual objects to be interpreted. “We’ve tried to recognize that products carry the mythology of the culture,” said Michael McCoy, chairman of the design department with his wife, Katherine.

Posted in art, Cranbrook, design, education, media, semiotics, theory, typography

Design in America: The Cranbrook Vision, 1925-1950

Design in America: The Cranbrook Vision, 1925-1950Edited by Robert Clark and Andrea Belloli (1984)
As Neil Harris explains in one of the book’s most interesting essays, Cranbrook derived from the arts and crafts movement that started in mid- 19th-century England as a reaction against shoddy industrial output and that, spreading speedily through northern Europe, resulted in the foundation of several schools aimed at reforming design by relating it more to art and life.

The Cranbrook complex, consisting of a church, schools for children, residences, studios and workshops, took about nine years to complete, by which time it had become – not an art school, but, in the words of the architect Eliel Saarinen, ”a working place for creative arts.” The emphasis, says Robert Judson Clark in his essay, was more on ”place, people and experience than on curriculum and methods.” Still, during World War II, this shifted to more orthodox concerns – credits, degrees and specific courses in, for instance, industrial design.

The influence of the Saarinens diminishes as the first generation of Cranbrook students comes of age, in the 1940s. The students include Ray and Charles Eames, represented by architecture and furniture; Florence Knoll, with interiors, and Harry Bertoia, with welded-metal sculptures.

Posted in architecture, art, Cranbrook, design, education, history

Whereishere

WhereishereBy Scott and Laurie Makela (1998)
What is driving communication and what are the real challenges facing designers today? Whereishere presents a radical new take on both these issues, breaks from the orthodox approach to understanding two dimensional design. Leading graphic design studios are represented including Bruce Mau and Cranbrook Academy of Art.

Posted in art, Cranbrook, design, education, media, photography, typography