The future architect and designer Eero Saarinen was born in 1910 in Kirkkonummi. As the son of the famous architect Eliel Saarinen and the sculptor Loja Saarinen the talent for interior design was practically put into his cradle. Although his father was very successful in his Finnish homeland, the family decided in 1923 to emigrate to the United States. The reason was an international architectural competition for the Chicago Tribune Tower, which Eliel won in the run-up.
There Eero Saarinen followed in his father's footsteps in later years: After studying sculpture at the Académie de la Grande Chaumiere in Paris, he completed a degree in architecture at the Yale School of Art and Architecture.
Architect with heart and soul
Then he joined the architectural firm of his father and became a partner in 1941. In 1950 he finally started his own business with his own architectural office. During his creative life as an architect, he created some impressive buildings: the Technical Centre of the General Motors plants in Warren, Michigan, the Dulles International Airport in Washington DC (1958-62), the Hockey Hall David S. Ingalls in Yale University (1953-1959), the TWA Terminal at JFK International Airport in New York and the CBS Building in New York (1963-1966).
All architectural works by Eero Saarinen have in common that they are characterized by sweeping lines and arcs - organic design was his claim both in architecture and interior design.
An exceptional designer friendship
Besides his work in the architectural office Eero Saarinen held a teaching position at the Cranbrook Educational Community, a school of applied arts, which his father had designed architecturally. The Cranbrook Educational Community should become the central linchpin of his life, for there he became friends with the later also famous designer Charles Eames.
Eero Saarinen and Charles Eames complemented each other perfectly, so it was not surprising that they both took part in the MoMa "Organic Design in Home Furnishing" competition in 1941. Ambition, creativity and inventiveness united the two young designers and so they won the competition with chair designs that stood out with their organically shaped seating shells.
Excellent organic design for interiors
Creating organically shaped seating furniture which adapt perfectly to the curves of the human body - from this point onward it became the credo of the American designer with Finnish roots.
His most famous chair is the tulip-shaped Tulip Chair. Looking at this creation, Eero Saarinen's reference to sculpture becomes clear: He was not a cool constructor but moulded his designs corresponding to the learned crafts like a sculpture. The elegant seat of the Tulip Chairs consists of fiberglass-reinforced plastic and is perched on an aluminum base - an extraordinary creation at that time in the year 1956. With this design Eero Saarinen wanted to bring calm into a room - the tangle of chair and table legs in typical interiors was strongly disliked by the designer. Thus he also created a matching table for the Tulip Chairs, which became part of the one-legged "Pedestal Collection”.
Eero Saarinen and Knoll International - these two names are inseparable from today's perspective. This alliance is based on a childhood friendship between Eero Saarinen and Florence Shust, an architecture student of his father Eliel Saarinen. When she later married the German architect Hans Knoll and build with him the furniture company Knoll Associates (today Knoll International), Eero Saarinen becomes one of the most important designers for them..
The existence of the "Womb Chair" is thanks to Florence Shust because she wanted an expansive, comfortable chair by Eero Saarinen, which should make sprawling acceptable. The Womb Chair completed in 1946 hit the nerve of time and has remained one of the most famous works of Eero Saarinen. The intention of the designer was to create a contemporary chair that not only has high seating comfort, but also modern appearance to offer.
Eero Saarinen's designs are still considered design icons and are important milestones in the development of organic design. Knoll International holds Eero Saarinen's heritage in honour to this day and distributes the Tulip Chair, Womb Chair & Co. worldwide to design lovers.
Further information on Eero Saarinen can be found here: www.eerosaarinen.net