It's pretty well-documented by now that I don't really make sojourns to the suburbs very often, but that doesn't trump my renewed interest in trying to take advantage of some of the more culturally enriching things our area has to offer. And thus I found myself driving to Bloomfield Hills on Saturday morning for a day of lectures about the life and work of architects Eliel Saarinen and his slightly higher profile son, Eero.
I'm not going to go into detail on the accomplishments of these two, that's what Wikipedia is for. Suffice to say they both did amazing work in their respective lifetimes, with Eliel's signature accomplishment being his buildings and oversight of the development of the Cranbrook campus; and Eero's masterpieces encompassing the TWA Terminal at Kennedy Airport in New York, the St. Louis Arch and locally the GM Technical Center campus in Warren (not to mention his fabulous mid-century furniture designs for Knoll).
Saarinen House at Cranbrook.
Fabulous topic? Check. Fabulous location? Check. It really only stands to follow that the crowd should be equally fabulous. And you know what? It pretty much was.
Don't get me wrong, this wasn't a Marc Jacobs runway show crowd. It was a slightly older crowd, nicely dressed in a sophisticated, subdued manner. Lots of design professionals in the hizzy, as well as a lot of younger design student types. It seemed everyone kind of knew each other, and since I didn't have a cocktail in me I wasn't quite as social as I like to be. Plus all I want to talk about is celebrity gossip. But the lectures were awesome, a bit on the academic side but I like that. And the lunch was in the main cafeteria which is all Arts 'n' Crafts 'n' shit and really pretty. And then the post-lunch session was at the GM Tech Center.
OK let's talk about the GM Tech Center. It isn't open to the public, so most design buffs haven't seen it in person. Naturally that was the main reason I wanted to go. It is fantastically mid-century classic in the International Style, but has a lot of expressive elements that add some drama and keep it entertaining. Amazingly unchanged in many ways since the buildings were first built, GM has nevertheless managed to adapt the buildings to suit contemporary business needs. The most incredible part of it all is that you can't tell you are in Warren, and that certainly counts as a major achievement by anyone's standards.
Supergay enjoying the drama of a Saarinen expressive element.
At these design-oriented things it can be really difficult to figure out who is gay and who is not. In the morning session at Cranbrook, I felt like I identified several groups of gay men, all in their late 40's-50's. Many of them turned up being out-of-towners (in an informal raising of hands initiated by one speaker ... I know, odd), but still, it got me thinking maybe I need to expand my dating pool. The GM part had a lot more attendees and skewed a lot younger, although I really couldn't tell who was a hipster and who was a gay hipster. You really never can, at least not until you are making out with one.
But overall I'd have to commend the Saarinen Symposium for a healthy gay turnout, both on the part of the attendees and the speakers, and it made me feel like at least a sliver of the kind of gay world I want to be a part of exists here in SE Michigan. And the day of the symposium - which took me from Lafayette Park to the Cranbrook campus to the GM Tech Center and back again - I really felt like my life here can, at some times, totally out-fabulous gay life in almost any other city.
How about that.