Design 101: Essential Eero Saarinen

published Feb 16, 2017
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(Image credit: Nancy Mitchell)

Can you tell your Knolls from your knockoffs? While I’ve been working my way through essential designers that everyone should know, I’m feeling a little more confident that you’ll recognize this one. The king of the Tulip chairs and your neo-futuristic dreams, Eero Saarinen.

Way before the Finnish phenom left his mark on the world of design, he had some big shoes to fill. Born to a world-famous architect and textile designer, Saarinen started assisting his father with some furniture design work in his teens. After stints studying architecture and sculpture at renowned universities, he came home to teach and develop his skills further.

But of course, no great designer is truly complete without some (seriously impressive) famous friends to collaborate with. While his work with Charles Eames may have helped to kickstart their respective careers, the collaboration with Florence Knoll was what cemented Saarinen as an iconic force in the industry.

Designs like the Womb chair and Tulip line are still highly sought after to this day, featured alongside everything from modern to bohemian-styled homes. The clean, minimalist style means that they’re very adaptable, as well as coming in beautiful stand-out colors. But since we’re talking about a design that has been replicated countless times, you may need to do a little due diligence to make sure you’re getting the real deal. Hint: “Saarinen style” is probably not a good bet!

And while his work has filled countless living rooms all over the earth, Saarinen also expanded his expertise to the outside world: the St. Louis Gateway Arch, TWA Terminal at JFK Airport, Dulles International Airport and the CBS headquarters in NYC are all products of his vast skill set.

Now that you’re familiar with the man behind the designs, why not bring some into your home? These are some of my favorite picks from Apartment Therapy Marketplace, and solid foundations for any serious collection.