Saarinen House

Wallace Mitchell, b 1911- d 1977, Eero Saarinen, b 1910- d 1961, Eliel Saarinen, b 1873- d 1950, Loja Saarinen, b 1879- d 1968, Zoltan Sepeshy , b 1898- d 1974, Roy Slade, b 1933, Pipsan Saarinen Swanson, b 1905- d 1979
Cranbrook Center for Collections and Research, Cranbrook Academy of Art, 39221 Woodward Ave. , Bloomfield Hills, MI 48304 - view on Google Maps
“The Cranbrook weavings . . . were created in an atmosphere where things needed are made, not ordered, and where creative effort and achievement [are] as natural as breathing.”
—Art Critic, Florence Davies, on the Weavings of Loja Saarinen
Saarinen House served as the home, studio, and garden of the Finnish American Saarinen family, including architect, designer, and painter Eliel Saarinen, and weaver and designer Loja Saarinen. Completed in 1930, it is a unique example of a Modern, Art Deco-style domestic space realized through Arts and Crafts methodologies.


Saarinen House visitors experience an extraordinary total work of art--the jewel of Cranbrook’s world-renown National Historic Landmark campus. The impeccably restored interior features the Saarinens’ original furnishings, including Eliel’s delicately veneered furniture and Loja’s sumptuous textiles, as well as early furniture designs by their son, Eero Saarinen.
Eliel Saarinen rose to prominence in 1900 with his design for the Finnish pavilion at the Paris International Exposition. Working from his home and studio, Hvitträsk, Saarinen helped develop a regional variation of the Arts and Crafts Movement that incorporated influences from French Art Nouveau, Austrian Secessionists, and Finnish folklore.

In 1922, Eliel was runner-up in the Chicago Tribune Tower Competition. His proposal transformed skyscraper design and prompted the family to emigrate to America, eventually arriving at Cranbrook in 1925. Over the next two decades he designed Cranbrook’s School for Boys, Academy of Art, including Saarinen House, Kingswood School for Girls, Institute of Science, and the Academy’s Art Museum and Library. While known as an architect, Eliel trained first as a painter and continued to paint throughout his life.

Loja Saarinen studied at the Art School of the Finnish Academy in Helsinki and trained in sculpture at the Academy Colarossi in Paris. For Hvitträsk, where the Saarinens lived after their marriage in 1904, Loja designed furniture and lighting, produced sculptures, and designed and maintained a formal garden. She frequently collaborated with Eliel on his architectural projects, sculpting large-scale clay models and directing photography—work that would continue in America.

At Cranbrook, Loja worked not only as a weaver, but also as a designer, landscape gardener, and entrepreneur. She designed the Saarinen House landscape, and the iconic landscape surrounding the Triton Pools in front of Cranbrook Art Museum.

It is her work as the founder and head of Studio Loja Saarinen, a commercial weaving studio, that established her reputation. In addition to textiles for Cranbrook, including Saarinen House, the Studio completed commissions for residences, businesses, and offices across the country. These included rugs and upholstery fabric commissioned by Frank Lloyd Wright for Edgar J. Kaufmann’s private office in Pittsburgh.

Did you know...?

The Saarinens hosted a veritable Who’s Who of American and European designers in their home. Visitors to Saarinen House included Frank Lloyd Wright, Le Corbusier, and Alvar and Aino Aalto, as well as Cranbrook Academy of Art artists Charles and Ray Eames, Florence Knoll, and Harry Bertoia.


Cranbrook Archives, which is open to the public by appointment, holds the Saarinen Family Papers, which documents Eliel and Loja Saarinen’s life and career in America. Additional works by the Saarinen Family may be seen through special Behind-the-Scenes tours through the Cranbrook Center, or at Cranbrook Art Museum on tours through the Collections Wing vault.

Saarinen House represents the only extant example of the family’s design work preserved and open to the public in America. The Saarinen home and studio in Finland, Hvitträsk, is also a museum open to visitors and a parallel artists’ home and studio.


  • Guided Tours of Saarinen House
  • Guided Tours of the Frank Lloyd Wright-designed Usonian Smith House
  • Guided Tours of Cranbrook House, the Arts and Crafts Tudoresque Manor Home of Cranbrook’s Founders, George and Ellen Booth
  • Visit Cranbrook Art Museum
  • Visit Cranbrook Institute of Science
  • Visit Cranbrook Japanese Garden