Mid Century Modern

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Eero Saarinen

Sarrinen Tulip Table & Chairs - photo by m.bibelot

Sarrinen Tulip Table & Chairs - photo by m.bibelot

Eero Saarinen (1910 – 1961), a Finnish-born architect and furniture designer, studied sculpture in France and architecture at Yale University. He came to the United States in 1923 at age thirteen with his father, Eliel Saarinen. His father was a prominent Finnish architect who came to teach architecture at the University of Michigan. His father also taught at Cranbrook Academy of Art where he later became the director of the academy.


Kresge Auditorium at MIT

Kresge Auditrium at MIT

After studying at Yale, Saarinen joined his father’s practice. He opened his own practice after his father’s death in 1950. Saarinen’s architectural accomplishments include General Motors Technical Center in Warren, Michigan; the Gateway Arch in St. Louis, Missouri; the Kresge Auditorium and chapel at MIT, Cambridge, Massachusetts; the TWA Flight Center at John F. Kennedy International Airport; and the main terminal of Dulles International Airport.


Like many other architects during this era, Saarinen also designed furniture. He collaborated on various furniture projects with his long time friend Charles Eames. The first recognition of his furniture design came in 1940. A molded plywood chair with complex curves he and Charles Eames designed won a competition called “Organic Design in Home Furnishings” held at the Museum of Modern Art (MOMA) in New York City. Later Saarinen joined Knoll Associates and designed various pieces such as the “Grasshopper” lounge chair and ottoman; the “Womb” chair, ottoman and settee; “Tulip” tables and chairs and a series of office chairs. His designs, especially the “Womb” chairs and ottoman and the “Tulip” collection became iconic in mid century modern furniture design and have remained the same to this day.

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