Eero and Onward
by Balthazar Korab
On a December day of 1955, fresh over from Paris, I walked into the small Eero Saarinen office in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan, with a beat-up box of eight-by-tens of my Beaux-Arts graduation work. "Can I see Mr. Saarinen? I'm looking for a job." He did see me, and having reviewed my prints, asked whether I could start that very afternoon — for $2.75 an hour pay. I did.
I remember every detail of that bizarre first American experience of mine and flash back to Taliesin, three years later, when the pay offered me was one dollar a day. "The first time I've ever offered to pay anyone," insisted the old master. But that's another story.
Back to Saarinen's extraordinary workshop of some 20 people from all over the world. I myself experimented with a new instrument, the camera, often splitting my time, day and night, between my pencil and my Leica.
My challenge was to project a virtual reality from those random, designer-built studies or from the polished presentation models. The former task was the more exciting one. We developed a routine where the camera and the photographer became an integral part of the design process. The photograph became a visual test for the designer. We were intrigued by the extent to which Eero grew dependent on the images, particularly during the TWA studies.
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This article is excerpted from Eero Saarinen: Buildings from the Balthazar Korab Archive, edited by David G. DeLong and C. Ford Peatross, a Norton/ Library of Congress Visual Sourcebook, copyright © 2008, with permission of the publisher, W.W. Norton & Company, Inc.