October 5, 2012 – February 28, 2013
Born in Finland, Eero Saarinen (1910 – 1961) is recognized today as one of America’s most influential architects of the 20th Century. The exhibition at A+D Architecture and Design Museum in Los Angeles highlighted his short but brilliant career bookended with two iconic buildings: the unbuilt Smithsonian Gallery of Art, which was to be Washington, DC’s first museum of modern art, and Dulles International Airport, which was designed as the nation’s first jet airport. He built numerous corporate, educational, cultural, public and private buildings along with such recognizable icons as the St. Louis Gateway Arch and the TWA terminal at JFK. The exhibition presented his contribution to California Case Study houses and shed light on his influence on design in mid-Century America.
The exhibition was unique in shedding light on the little known chapter of Eero Saarinen’s secret professional life during WWII when he served in the OSS, the precursor of the CIA. His wartime experience influenced and helped Eero Saarinen establish himself as one of the most creative designers with products that broke technological and aesthetic boundaries including the Tulip chair and the Womb chair, both still in production by Knoll.
The exhibition was organized to grow as it travels to highlight regional relevance. A new module prepared for and seen for the first time at A+D features Eero Saarinen’s residential design in California, the Case Study House #9. Part of the experimental post-war housing spearheaded by the Arts and Architecture Magazine, Saarinen designed the house together with Charles Eames in 1945 and when it was constructed in 1949, the founder and editor, John Entenza lived in the house. The exhibition showed sketches and drawings never before exhibited together with a physical model and a digital model that underscored Saarinen’s perception not just of form and aesthetics but also of new ideas for mass housing during the post-war boom.
Eero Saarinen: A Reputation for Innovation promotes the rediscovery of the man, his deep connections to Finland, his American idealism, his passion for design, and his still very valid principles which he promoted throughout his life and career. See also eerosaarinenexhibition.com
-Mina Marefat, PhD, AIA
Exhibition Curator: Mina Marefat, PhD, AIA
Mina Marefat, is an architect, architectural historian and professor at Georgetown University. She discovered and rescued the Smithsonian Gallery of Art’s original drawings in 1990 when she served as their senior architectural historian. Additionally, Mina brings to the project an in-depth knowledge of modernism, about which she has written extensively, as well as years of research and curatorial experience at the Smithsonian’s American History Museum and the Library of Congress. In 2009–2010 she served as the curatorial advisor to the retrospective exhibition on Frank Lloyd Wright at the Guggenheim in New York City and Bilbao, Spain.