“THE FATHER OF LASTING ARCHITECTURE” Informed by the personal and professional letters of Eliel and Eero Saarinen, interviews, and historical archives, we embark on an extraordinary story of a great father of artistic and timeless architecture: Eliel Saarinen. In this 90-minute documentary, we learn of his struggle for artistic expression and independence while under Soviet Rule. It was a struggle that coincided with the formative years of the nation of Finland. Eliel’s rebellious, forward thinking philosophies evolved into building a bridge to the forefront of international art circles, in 1900. Eliel was practicing architecture as fine art. His use of forms from nature, city-planning, design, and painting led him to be a champion of “Finland’s National Identity" and establishing “Finnish National Romanticism” while they remained a Duchy under the Russian thumb until 1917.
His unique ability for networking with leading European talents followed him to America, where, joining forces with investor George Booth, he began designing his AIA gold medal winning, masterpiece: Cranbrook School for Boys,* in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan,1925. After designing Kingswood School for Girls, 1931, he served as President of Cranbrook Academy of Art from 1932 until 1946. Finally, his city planning abilities were recognized in one of the best art schools in the US. His powerful influence, combined with the unique learning environment at Cranbrook, attracted the most influential architects, designers, painters, and sculptors of the time to join him during the heady years at Cranbrook Academy of Art. We also learn about the fierce father-son relationship between Eliel and Eero through primary sources, letters, and correspondence.
The “family tree” of architects that either studied directly under Eliel or indirectly through Eero, spread worldwide. Tenets of his design philosophy: “always consider the next biggest thing”—(a chair in a room, a room in a house)—strive to be forward thinking (use of materials, new technology) and always consider the designs’ future use (expansion, modularity, sustainability). The goal is to enhance and inspire man’s life through design. Answers to design problems can be found in nature. Never imitate anyone, especially yourself, a mandate which demands a personal emotional expression of the artist from within. Finally, get the best people around you, and work together! Eliel saw architecture as a collaborative medium. In today’s terms, Eliel saw the supervising architect as not only the "Composer” but the “Conductor of the Symphony” for every project. While the design is considered as a whole, we must also consider and relate all the elements that make up that design to the whole. All details of the structure contribute to its “Zeitgeist."
*AIA 25 Year Award Include: Cranbrook School for Boys school 1928, Kingswood Girls School 1931, Cranbrook Institute of Science, 1937, Cranbrook Library and Art Museum 1942
Our goal is to kick-off THE SAARINEN FOUNDATION with the inspiring story of Eero Saarinen’s father, Eliel, with whom he worked side by side from when he was a small boy to the last days of Eliel’s life. It springboards our desire to not only be a voice but also a provider of unique tools for architecture education. The educational extension of this film will include a turn-key Study Guide course in Eliel Saarinen for universities to plug into their programs. (See more details in Mission Statement)
Fund Raising Research and Development per: Finland National Museum & Cranbrook Academy Script Development Study Guide and Asset development Shooting Schedule Filming Location & Interviews Post Production Music Final Mix Enter Film Festivals Submit for Network Distribution Academic Marketing & Distribution
Upon completion, the film will be submitted to various film festivals. It will be presented to Netflix, HBO, History Channel and similar networks for distribution. Marketing Study Guide will go to Educational and Architectural Institutes.