As a creative “faculty wife,” Leza McVey combined lessons learned from three master craftsmen recruited by Elie Saarinen to be instructors at Cranbrook: Maija Grotell, the Finnish ceramicist; Lola Saarinen, a Swedish weaver whose work was founded on the folk RYA tradition; and Swedish sculptor Carl Miles, known for his expressive figural fountain. McVey employed these disciplines and Nordic modern principles underwritten by folk tradition to create off-the-wheel, irregularly formed bottles with stoppers and extraordinary tapestries and hooked rugs.  —Mark McDonald

Most pots have been designed as 'containers' for flower arrangements, a prescribed number of red apples, or perhaps a decorously shirred egg. These extraneous objects are needed to complete the design. But since flowers will wilt and apples do get eaten, I prefer completing the unit myself. This feeling—undoubtedly a limitation—has led to my incorporating stopper-accents in many of my designs.

Leza McVey

40 Years of Lost City Arts

Jim Elkind, founder Lost City Arts—of one of the most influential design galleries in New York City—has design in his DNA. Elkind grew up in a modernist house full of mid-century modern furniture and spent many weekends traveling into New York with his mother, visiting museums and exploring the city. He fondly recalls her pointing up at the skyscrapers and their architectural details, encouraging and instilling in him a curiosity about his surroundings and an attention to detail that would go on to shape his future career.

The idea to open a gallery originally came to Elkind during a visit to the annual juried art show at University of Wisconsin, Madison, where he attended college. The vetted show featured several hundred artists, many of whom, he realized, were extremely talented but would never make it into the mainstream art world. Taking a page from his entrepreneur father’s book, Elkind imagined opening a gallery in New York called the Gallery of the Unknown Artist where he would feature work by up-and-coming artists from universities around the country.