Eero Saarinen, neofuturist architect and furniture designer, was born in Kirkkonummi, Finland in 1910. His future career path would be heavily influenced by those of his prominent parents, architect Eliel and textile artist Loja. After the family immigrated to the US, he was educated at Michigan’s Cranbrook Academy of Art, where he met Charles and Ray Eames and a girl called Florence Schust. The Saarinens were so taken with Florence that they began bringing her with them when travelling, and Eliel personally tutored her. These early relationships would prove lucky for all of them.
As an adult Eero studied sculpture and architecture before going into business with his father. In 1940 he and Charles Eames collaborated on the now-iconic Tulip Chair. Their old friend Florence, now Florence Knoll, held an important position at a leading US design house, and soon had the Tulip Chair in mass production. In the same decade Eero began winning important commissions as an architect, including the Gateway Arch at St Louis’ Jefferson National Expansion Memorial. He would go on to design several college buildings and campuses and two airports; he also helped finalize the design for the Sydney Opera House. But it’s as an industrial designer that many fans remember him best.
After the success of the Tulip Chair, Saarinen went on to create hit designs like the Womb Chair and Ottoman (1947-48) and the Pedestal collection of tables, chairs and stools (1954-57). He revised his designs obsessively and created multiple scale models and mockups of every piece until he was satisfied. The resultant furnishings remain fresh and exciting decades later, proving that they were truly ahead of their time.