Next month, the Indianapolis Museum of Art will open to the public the house that Eero Saarinen designed for the industrialist J. Irwin Miller and his wife, Xenia, giving design pilgrims one more reason to visit Columbus, Ind., the mecca of Modernist architecture that Miller sponsored. The stone- and glass-walled house, which Saarinen completed in 1957, includes about 14 acres of landscaping by Dan Kiley and meticulously preserved interiors by Alexander Girard, who sank the world’s first conversation pit into its living room. The Eames Aluminum Group chairs were designed for the Millers, whose dining table was a precursor to Saarinen’s Tulip pedestal series. The couple lived in the house until their deaths (his in 2004, hers in 2008) and left behind a portrait not just of enlightened 20th-century arts patronage but of family life as well. “It’s not like the Farnsworth House, which was a weekend getaway, or the Glass House, which is purely an architect’s personal expression of his ideas,” says Bradley Brooks, the museum’s director of historic resources. “It had to accommodate entertaining and employees and five kids, and yet it was still resolved so beautifully.
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