Eero Saarinen

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Born in Finland in 1910, Eero Saarinen immigrated with his family to the United States at thirteen. Surrounded by design as a child, his father was renowned Art Deco architect Eliel Saarinen and his mother, Loja Saarinen, was a textile artist. By the time he was a teenager, Eero was designing furniture and light fixtures with his father. He studied sculpture in Paris, architecture at Yale and later attended Cranbrook in Michigan, which his father co-founded. It was at Cranbrook that Eero met Charles Eames and Florence Knoll, with whom he would create some of the most influential furniture designs of the 20th century.

Mid-Century Architecture Career

While most of Eero’s early work was created under the mentorship of his father, he first emerged from Eliel’s shadow when he won the commission to design the instantly recognizable Gateway Arch in St. Louis. In 1957.

Eero won many prestigious commissions throughout his career, designing the TWA Flight Center at JFK International Airport, Washington Dulles International Airport in Washington D.C, Kleinhans Music Hall and the U.S. Embassy in London. His extensive list of designs varied so widely that he was criticized for not having an identifiable style. To this, Eero said that no two designs should be the same, claiming each of his clients were “co-creators” of his work. 

Mid-Century Modern Furniture Design

Eero drew from his sculptural studies to design the Tulip Chair for Knoll, which would become a defining piece of his design legacy. The arched armchairs and Womb Chair also follow these sculptural features.

American Mid-Century Modern Design Legacy

Widely regarded as a master of 20th-century architectural design, Eero Saarinen has designed some of the most recognizable and iconic landmarks throughout the world, and his furniture collaborations have remained classic pieces to this day. He was driven by the idea that the boundaries of modernism should be pushed, and while his career was ultimately cut short at the end of his life, his work has left a lasting legacy in the world of design.