Loja Saarinen and Eliel Saarinen – Rug No. 2

@ The Detroit Institute of Arts, Detroit, Michigan. Photograph by Dirk Bakker.

Loja Saarinen and Eliel Saarinen (Designers)

Rug No. 2, November 1928 - February 1929

Loja: Born Louise Gesellius, 1879, Helsinki, Finland; operated Studio Loja Saarinen at Cranbrook, 1928–1942; Cranbrook Academy of Art, Head of Department of Weaving and Textile Design, 1929–1942; died 1968, Bloomfield Hills, Michigan
Eliel: Born 1873, Rantasalmi, Finland; Cranbrook, Resident Architect, 1925–1950; Cranbrook Academy of Art (CAA), President, 1932–1946; CAA Director of Department of Architecture and Urban Design, 1946–1950; died 1950, Bloomfield Hills, Michigan

Weaver: Studio Loja Saarinen: Loja Saarinen and Walborg Nordquist Smalley

Cotton warp; wool pile; plain weave with ten picks of weft between each row of knots
110 ½ x 39 inches

CAM 1955.3

In 1928 Loja Saarinen, Eliel Saarinen’s wife, established Studio Loja Saarinen, a commercial weaving studio she operated at Cranbrook until 1942. Her studio created textiles for special commissions, the bulk of which were for Cranbrook and included rugs, window treatments, and upholstery fabrics for Kingswood School Cranbrook (founded as a school for girls in 1931) and Saarinen House (1930, the Saarinens’ Cranbrook residence). Studio Loja Saarinen employed primarily Swedish weavers who worked in a traditional Scandinavian ryijy technique, hand knotting tufts as they wove. These new ryijy rugs complemented the Saarinens’ interest in and collection of historical examples.

Loja and Eliel Saarinen designed this second rug woven by Studio Loja Saarinen, in which Eliel’s initials appear in one corner and Cranbrook Academy of Art’s “CA” monogram in another. The peacock motif, which occurs repeatedly in the Saarinens’ designs for Cranbrook, emphasizes that this rug, though destined for use in Loja’s studio in front of a bench of equal width, belonged to a larger scheme for the campus.

Ashley Callahan
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Category(s): Textiles

Decade(s): 1920s

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