Eero Saarinen (1910 – 1961) was born in Finland to an architect and a textile designer and sculptor. This inheritance of skill and artistic appreciation set him up to be one of the most recognized and lauded architectural designers of the 20th Century. His family immigrated to the USA in 1923 and settled in Michigan. The post-war, post-Depression aesthetic that makes design from America during these years can largely be accredited to the vast contributions of Saarinen. His parents created the designs for key landmarks and founded institutions that enabled Saarinen access to a vast amount of possibilities. He began designing furniture in his teenage years and developed a lasting partnership with Charles Eames, when they met at Cranbrook Academy of Art, which his father had co-founded and where Saarinen worked as an apprentice. Eero Saarinen is known for his adventurous and bold designs, both in architecture and in furniture.
Eero Saarinen attended Yale’s School of Architecture and graduated in 1934. After graduating, Saarinen worked closely with his clients to create works that were an amalgamation of contributions, where he saw his clients as integral to the aesthetic decision process. This lead to his works appearing varied and ever changing and sometimes resulted in some criticizing of his methods. After his father died, Saarinen continued his father’s business, Saarinen & Associates, which thrived and became one of the most important firms in the post-war American boom. Eames and Saarinen were awarded first prize in the MoMA Organic Design in Home Furnishings competition and this solidified his career in furniture. His architectural achievements include the JF Kennedy Airport in New York and the General Motors Technical Center, while he also won the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial Competition in 1948. In furniture design, Saarinen partnered with Knoll and produced numerous pieces until his death in 1961.
Eero Saarinen, Grasshopper Chair and Ottoman (circa 1950) H: 88cm W: 74cm D: 84cm, wood and upholstery, USA
The Grasshopper Chair was first designed and produced in 1946 for Knoll. Its design plays along the lines of Eric Saarinen’s experimentation with different materials and shapes. Its soft upholstery fabric compliments the polished wood arms, just as the shapes of adjacent and intersecting bent lines work together to create an interesting form. The chair was one of the first creations made by Saarinen for Knoll and remained in production until 1965.
Eero Saarinen, Tulip Dining Table (circa 1990) H: 73,5cm D: 121cm, Finland
In the years 1953 to 1958, Eero Saarinen became focused on the need to reduce the amount of legs used and often taken for granted as part of the design of chairs and tables. His Tulip Dining Table was the result of problem solving and innovation and was developed into a series with numerous variations. The table itself has a cast aluminum base with a resin-coated wood that has a white chrome finish. It was introduced as a part of the Pedestal Collection in 1958 and has been featured across the world, in magazines and films as an iconic furniture statement.