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52 Balthazar Korab photos of The Miller House — an exceptional legacy

living-room-Miller-housToday, a piece of the amazing legacy of photographer Balthazar Korab — 52 photos from the series of photographs he took of the Miller House — designed by Eero Saarinen… decorated by Alexander Girard…. gardens by Dan Kiley …  built in 1953 in Columbus, Indiana. When Korab died last year, he contributed these photos to the Library of Congress — making them available for all of us to see. We’ve sifted through the archive of this body of Korab’s work to curate what we think are Korab’s 52 best photos of The Miller House — including some fascinating shots of the models used in Saarinen’s design process. 

eero saarinen Born in Budapest, Hungary, Korab didn’t come to the U.S. until 1955, when he was hired as a photographer by Saarinen, who had begun to experiment with using photography as part of the design process. Korab went to work in Saarinen’s office in Bloomfield, Mich.

balthazar korab photo miller house modelKorab shot photos of the model for the Miller House — amazing!

balthazar korableero saarinen kitchenAbove: You know how we find it fascinating to see the (usually) lesser photographed spaces inside architect-designed midcentury modern houses — like the bathroom and kitchen shown above. For example: Pegboard on the kitchen wall to hold a changing display. In a Saarinen house! As we like to repeat: Also fascinating how these functional spaces in high-style houses looks pretty much like the functional spaces in midcentury modest houses. In our experience studying these houses over the years, there wasn’t all that much difference between modern and modest bathrooms and kitchens in the first few decades after World War II!

balthazar korab miller houseKorab continued to shoot photos of the house and gardens over the next 40 years. This is why, we think, as you are viewing the photos, you see changes — upholstery colors, for example.

eero-saarinen-chairsnatural wall art We love the Alexander Girard decor — the all-white interior is the fresh clean palette — he then layered whimsical color and pattern. But then, there’s natural wall art, too. This house was just … genius. It’s virtually impossible to choose a favorite part. We do know: Thank goodness for Balthazar Korab!

But let’s get to it… All photos courtesy of: Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division, Balthazar Korab Archive at the Library of Congress [reproduction number, e.g., LC-DIG-krb-00175].

Tips to view slide show: Click on first image… it will enlarge and you can also read my captions… move forward or back via arrows below the photo… you can start or stop at any image:

  1. pam kueber says:

    Status symbol: Wall-to-wall carpeting! And… the very fact you even had a new bathroom or kitchen – or house!

  2. Chad Heimlich says:

    Korab was trained as an architect and joined Saarinen’s firm as a design associate. He was, in fact, responsible for designing the fireplace at the Miller House. Apparently, it was a very frustrating process, as evidenced by the 9 different fireplace configuration models we see in one of the photos. He later said that is was this project that convinced him to pursue a career as a photographer, rather than an architect!

  3. Brenda Martin says:

    Love it! But I wanted to see the kitchen, pool, front entrance better, and any other bathroom!!
    Remember the Beatles movie ‘HELP!’? Each Beatle had their own sunken bed area with matching colorful phone. Remember?

  4. Joe Felice says:

    WOW! Mid-century haute décor at its best! Is that round thing actually a fireplace? Sunken living rooms are associated more with the ’70s, but it was informative to see they had their beginnings in the ’50s. Why no kitchen pics?

  5. Pam Fidler says:

    I love this so much! It’s such a happy modern house with the colors! I was wondering who is the artist of the large arched top painting in the living room near the pit!

  6. Mary Elizabeth says:

    Gee, Brenda, I don’t remember that detail from the movie. But the great thing about aging in the digital age is that we can buy/rent that DVD and rewatch that which we have forgotten.

  7. Karin says:

    Wow! This house is definitely my favorite house ever featured on RR.
    It is timeless, elegant and playful. Magic.

  8. Kim says:

    I lived the first 27 years of my life in Columbus and grew up wondering about the house hidden behind the tall hedges on Washington Street – the house where I was told Mr. Miller lived. Not until a trip home last summer was the mystery solved and a lifelong dream realized. Both the city and the house are a must for any mid century architecture lover.

  9. Laura says:

    My mom is from Columbus and I spent several years of my childhood there. My grandmother and Mrs. Miller were actually friends and my grandmother use to have lunch at this home occasionally. My husband and I are about a week away from closing on our first home which is a lovely 1957 custom home that we are totally in love with and it has been fun looking over your site to get some design ideas. Our taste usually runs a bit older and more turn of the century and so we were quite surprised to fall so in love with our lovely midcentury gem!

  10. Tyler Goodro says:

    The house is amazing. I was able to visit the house one year before it was open to the public. Interesting note about the conversation pit, there was a set of pillows for every season of the year. While sitting in the conversation pit you could see the underside of the grand piano, so they had it painted red.

    Here are some more pics if anyone is interested:

    http://plastolux.com/interior-miller-modern-eero-girard-kiley.html

    http://plastolux.com/may-10-2011-j-irwin-miller-house-opens-to-the-public.html

  11. Clona Bond says:

    Thank you for the pictures. It is an amazing property to be maintained, treasured, viewed and enjoyed.

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