Eero Saarinen

Finnish-American architect and designer Eero Saarinen (1910-1961) is one of the most prolific and diverse industrial designers of the 20th century. Simple, sweeping, structural curves and machine-like rationalism: the varying style of his work flexes with the demands of each project.

Born to world-famous architect and Cranbrook Academy of Art director Eliel Saarinen and textile artist Loja Saarinen, Saarinen was surrounded by design his whole life. After studying sculpture in Paris and architecture at Yale, Saarinen returned in 1934 to Michigan to teach at Cranbrook, work on furniture designs, and practice architecture with his father.

It was at Cranbrook that Saarinen met Charles Eames. The two young men, both committed to the exploration of potential new materials and processes, quickly became great friends, pushing each other creatively while collaborating on several projects, most notably their groundbreaking and grand prize winning collection of moulded plywood chairs for the MoMA-sponsored 1940 Organic Design in Home Furnishings competition.

Saarinen also met Florence Knoll at Cranbrook, who at that time was a promising young protégé of Eliel Saarinen. When Florence joined Knoll in the 1940s, it was an obvious choice for her to invite Saarinen to design for the company.

Over the next 15 years Saarinen designed many of the most recognisable Knoll pieces, including the Tulip chair, Saarinen table, Womb chair, and the 70 series seating collection. In addition to his achievements in furniture, Saarinen was a leader of the second-generation modernists. Among his outstanding projects are the Dulles International Airport in Washington, DC, The Gateway Arch in St. Louis, Missouri, the TWA Terminal at Kennedy International Airport, and the CBS headquarters in New York