Just got home from a lecture at Kerry Hall given by Mark Coir, Director of Archives at Cranbrook Schools and Susan Saarinen, daughter of architect Eero Saarinen and his first-wife, Lily. Eero's father, Eliel, came to the U.S. from Finland after winning second-place in the competition to build the new Chicago Tribune building. His design was extremely influential on the development of American skycrapers, it was the first to have that cascading-type of effect according to Mark Coir. And this from a man who came from a land without skyscrapers... His design wasn't built, but he ended up working quite a bit in Michigan, especially designing many of the buildings at Cranbrook.
Eero became an architect like his father, and ended up doing such things as the St. Louis Arch, and the terminal at Dulles shown above in the teeny-tiny bottom left photograph. He also shaped the modern furniture movement with his "womb" and "tulip" chairs especially; he was quite a prolific designer.
Susan Saarinen told about how "Charlie" Eames was her godfather, and had many interesting insights into the family's internal dynamics. The women were also prolific designers, Eliel's wife Loja and daughter Pipsan worked on many of the interiors of their buildings. Interestingly, the generation gap shows there also because Loja generally created one-of-a-kind pieces while Pipsan was interested in the manufacturing process. (Conveniently, Florence Schultz Knoll was an intimate of the family also. And Harry Bertoia. Among others.)
How do I sign up to be a member of this family? Not only does it have the only father/son team to both receive AIA Gold awards, but Kyra Sedgewick is Susan's cousin, meaning that she knows Kevin Bacon. How awesome is that when playing Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon? "Let's see, um, me. And then Kevin Bacon." Forget naming movies and actors, if you know Kevin Bacon you've already won.
Maybe for Christmas I will ask to be inducted into an international design family who has a background in the European intelligensia of the late 19th century. They can totally be Finnish, but I will accept other countries too. I don't want to seem too picky.