oday, Eero Saarinen is considered one of the masters of American 20th century architecture. But in his own time he was criticized for having no identifiable style, as he adapted his modernist vision to each individual client or project. Saarinen was born in Finland in 1910 but emigrated to the USA when he was thirteen years old. He studied at the Cranbrook Academy of Art in Michigan, where his father was a teacher.
During his studies he became close friends with Charles and Ray Eames (whom we all know) as well as Florence Knoll (née Schust, the future wife of Hans Knoll of the Knoll furniture company). In 1929 Eero studied sculpture in Paris and finally finished his studies in 1934 after graduating from the Yale School of Architecture.
Winning first prize, together with Charles Eames, in the Museum of Modern Art’s Organic Design in Home Furnishings in 1940 really launched his (and Charles’) career. His Pedestal Table, Tulip Chairs, Womb Chair and Executive Seating have all become easily recognizable icons of American modernism. These pieces are still manufactured by the Knoll company today.
But as an architect he designed some remarkable buildings as well. Ranging from the Mies van der Rohe inspired steel and glass structures such as the CBS headquarters in New York or the Miller House in Columbus, Indiana to the iconic, organic and at the same time futuristic TWA Flight Terminal of JFK Airport, he created a new visual vocabulary.
Eero Saarinen died too early at the age of 51 whilst in surgery for a brain tumor. In his memory, here is an impression of his oeuvre.
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