With his ‘suburban tipi’ the half-Finnish, half-Italian designer John Paananen earned his Master of Fine Arts in 3D Design at the Cranbrook Academy of Art in 2007.
The idea for a nomadic tipi-like home came when John was reseraching and living in a tradiational yurt, a type of nomadic home which is designed originally by different indigenous peoples.
“The ‘suburban tipi’ is a fusion of three different nomadic home structures: the yurt, igloo, and tipi. The inspiration for the project was a critical response to living on an idyllic campus surrounded by a hyper-suburbanized landscape. Paananen considered the thought, “What would happen as a result of immobilizing the nomadic home with suburban values, materials and methods of construction? Would the inherently eco-sensitive structures (representing the people that designed them) have a reaction to the suburban cloak and what would that look like? I imagined these holistically designed structures to blister or tumor in reaction to the disconnectedness, artificiality, environmental and social irresponsibility that suburbia is.” The ‘suburban tipi’ was first situated on the Cranbrook Academy of Art campus in a courtyard completely surrounded by Finnish architect, Eliel Saarinen designed buildings. The home measures 16 feet tall by 18 feet in diameter and has 255 square feet of living space. Paananen resided in it from January through July 2007. The structure which took about three months to reach completion was carefully deconstructed in three hours by a three person crew. It was then neatly stacked until it was transported by truck to be re-erected at a new location. It currently can be visited at AguaFina Gardens International in Sylvan Lake, Michigan.”