Welcome Mat: Cranbrook tours highlight Eero Saarinen

Maureen Feighan
The Detroit News

Cranbrook features Eero Saarinen

during January collection tours

If you caught the recent PBS documentary, “Eero Saarinen: The Architect Who Saw the Future,” Cranbrook figured prominently in it. An in-depth look at the Finnish-American architect’s life, some of the documentary was actually filmed at Cranbrook and it also included archival film footage and vintage photographs that were provided by the school’s Center for Collections and Research, said Dominic A. DiMarco, president of the Cranbrook Educational Community, in a winter newsletter. To learn more about Eero Saarinen and see his Cranbrook legacy firsthand, DiMarco recommends taking a Collections Wing Tour. Throughout January, the Cranbrook Art Museum will be offering a weekly tour of the Collections Wing, featuring the work of Eero Saarinen. Tours are planned for 1-2 p.m. Saturday and again on Jan. 21 and 28. Admission to the tour is $5 in addition to museum admission. There is no charge for ArtMembers. To make a reservation, call (248) 645.3320 or email VisitArt@cranbrook.edu.

Artful chairs, including classic works such as the Womb Chair (top left) by Eero Saarinen are stored and also displayed in the main plaza vault inside the Collections Wing at Cranbrook Art Museum in Bloomfield Hills.

DIA gift shop offers

car-inspired goods

For Metro Detroit gearheads, it’s one week of heaven in January: the North American International Auto Show at Cobo Center. For car lovers who want to rev up their home decor year-round with an auto motif, the Detroit Institute of Arts museum shop actually has some very cool car-themed items, including clocks and bags. Its Seat Belt Chair ($799) uses proprietary woven ribbons of cotton fabric that mimic the fabric used for seat belts. The 26-by-20-by-33 inch chair comes in a variety of colors. For information, email museumshop@dia.org.

The Seatbeat Chair is made from woven fabric similar to seatbelts.

Detroit design studio’s

Airea Floor line is cool, durable

Who says cushy anti-fatigue mats have to be ugly? Sitskie, a design studio that recently relocated from Los Angeles to Detroit, has introduced a new product called the Airea Floormat that’s durable, functional and very cool. Made of a type of flexible wood that flexes when you step on it, Airea features a sleek diamond pattern and comes in white, black, gold or walnut. “I really want to give people something new, something they haven’t seen before,” said owner and designer Adam Friedman. The Airea Floor line isn’t cheap – prices start at $375 – but it has a rugged silicon grout that makes it water resistant and highly durable. Go to sitskie.com.

Sitskie, a Detroit-based design studio, has introduced the Airea Floormat that flexes when you walk on it.

Fair Lane kicks off workshop series

As restoration work continues on the Henry Ford Estate at Fair Lane in Dearborn, the home of auto pioneer Henry Ford and his wife, Clara, some people don’t just want to see the finished product. They want to understand the process. Now the estate will open its doors this winter and spring for five workshops that will focus on everything from restoring windows and floors to metals. “The workshops not only allow visitors back into the house to see the progress, but it also serves as a learning lab for those interested in preserving their own home,” said estate spokeswoman Ann Fitzpatrick. The first workshop, “Saving Your Stonework,” begins at 1 p.m. Jan. 28. Tickets are $45 for each workshop; space is limited. Go to http://henryfordestate.org/news.

The staircase leading to the second floor of Henry and Clara Ford's Fair Lane estate.

Learn restoration tips from local pros

Bringing an old house back to life takes a lot more than hard work. It takes passion, determination and research. On Jan. 22, a group of artisans well-versed in restoring everything from glass to walls and ceilings will share their expertise at a panel discussion at the Alger House, part of the Grosse Pointe War Memorial in Grosse Pointe Farms. Ann Baxter, owner of Baxter Glass Art, who has restored glass pieces in churches, homes (the Ransom Gillis house is pictured) and schools across Metro Detroit, is among the panelists along with Martin Soo Hoo, an architectural restoration specialist for ceilings and walls, and Kimberly Dobos, Pewabic Pottery’s historical curator. The discussion, called “A-List Artisans Share Their Secrets,” runs from 2-4 p.m. and is part of the Your Old Mansion lecture and tour series at the Alger House, organized by the Grosse Pointe Art Center. Tickets are $15. Go to grossepointeartcenter.org to register.

Ann Baxter, a local glass artist who worked on the Ransom Gillis house in Detroit’s Brush Park, will be one of several local restoration experts speaking at an upcoming panel discussion at the Alger House.