Michigan is ready to welcome guests from around the globe to discuss its central role in the development of American Modernism, which created the foundation for Michigan’s design and engineering industry today.
Michigan Modern: Design that Shaped America, June 13 – 16, is a four-day symposium that brings together architects, critics, designers, historians, business leaders and others to the Cranbrook Educational Community, north of Detroit.
Aerial view of the Cranbrook Educational Community located on 319 acres of rolling terrain in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan, twenty miles northwest of downtown Detroit.
“During the 20th-century, Michigan was an epicenter of modern design that touched nearly every aspect of American life. Detroit’s automobile manufacturers didn’t just produce automobiles—they styled them to represent the American dream,” said Brian D. Conway, Michigan State Historic Preservation Officer. “Michigan’s furniture makers didn’t just manufacture furniture—they revolutionized the look of the American home and office. Michigan architects such as Albert Kahn, Eero Saarinen, and Minoru Yamasaki didn’t just design buildings—they defined an era.”
Michigan Consolidated Gas Building, Detroit, designed by Minoru Yamasaki. Photographer: Steve Vorderman
The four days have been packed with discussions and tours. In addition, a major exhibition, Michigan Modern: Design that Shaped America, will open on Thursday evening, June 13. The exhibition will be in the Eliel Saarinen-designed, and recently restored, Cranbrook Art Museum, and open to the public through October 13.
Highlights of the symposium include:
- Lunch in beautifully appointed dining halls of Cranbrook, designed by Eero Saarinen.
- Tour world class modern resources including the General Motors Technical Center, also designed by Saarinen, and Lafayette Park, the largest collection of Ludwig Mies van der Rohe’s residential architecture in the world.
- Hear stories directly from designers who were part of Michigan’s mid-century design boom: the internationally-acclaimed architect Gunnar Birkerts, who worked in the office of Saarinen during the construction of the General Motors Technical Center, and Ruth Adler-Schnee a notable figure in modern textile design.
- Learn from nationally known experts who will provide their own unique insight on the people, places and events that populated Michigan’s design world and why Michigan should take its rightful place as a 20th-century design powerhouse alongside New York City and Los Angeles.