The Cranbook Academy of Art, located in the rural town of Bloomfield Hills, Mich., is lauded for being the experimental place where some of the greatest American modernists could exercise their design wings. Architects and industrial designers Ray and Charles Eames; interior design and corporate maven Florence Knoll; fierce architect Ralph Rapson who seemingly won every design competition he entered; playful sculptor Harry Bertoia; and both Eero and Eliel Saarinen, all crossed paths in this prolific hub between 1937 and 1941. All went on to be successful in their own rights, but arguably could not have had the same career path was it not for the vision of Canadian-born publish magnate George Gough Booth.

The imaginative benefactor, who married into the wealthy Scripps family, had an ornate vision for creating an institute similar to the American Academy of Art in Italy. While his son, Henry S. Booth, was pursuing a degree in architecture at the University of Michigan, he was enthralled by the classes taught by the Finnish educator, urban planner, and architect Eliel Saarinen. After an arranged meeting, the elder Booth decided that the foreign-born Saarinen was the best choice (there were already strong tensions among local designers), and announced a $6.5 million proposal to create a school that would attract some of the best artists from around the world, while students acted more as apprentices.

To how all of these designers got their start, check out the article at Curbed.

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