Ttoday, 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.

Eero Saarinen

Eero Saarinen

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.

Knoll Executive Chair by Eero Saarinen

The Executive Chair

Saarinen Grasshopper chair, designed in 1946. It was not a very succesful design.

Saarinen’s Grasshopper chair, designed in 1946. It was not a very succesful design.

Tulip Armchair via Pinterest

Tulip Armchair via Pinterest

Tulip Armchairs via Domaine Home

Tulip Armchairs via Domaine Home

Tulip chair

Tulip chairs in pink via Pinterest

Tulip table in a loft via The Bower Birds

Pedestal table in a loft via The Bower Birds

Tulip Table via Casos de Casa

Pedestal table with the Tulip armchair and an Eames chair

Womb chair with ottoman by Eero Saarinen via Pinterest

Womb chair with ottoman via Pinterest

CBS Headquarters in New York, also know as the Black Rock, completed in 1965

CBS Headquarters in New York, also known as the Black Rock, completed in 1965

Gateway Arch St Louis designed by Eero Saarinen completed in 1965 at the cost of 15 million dollars

Gateway Arch in St Louis, completed in 1965 at the cost of 15 million dollars

John Deer Headquarters, designed by Eero Saarinen, inspired by the style of Mies van der Rohe, completed in 1964

John Deer Headquarters, inspired by the style of Mies van der Rohe, completed in 1964

The Miller residence in Columbus, Indiana USA designed by Eero Saarinen

The Miller residence in Columbus, Indiana USA

The Miller residence in Columbus, Indiana USA designed by Eero Saarinen, completed in 1957. It was built for American industrialist, philanthropist, and architecture patron J. Irwin Miller.

The Miller residence in Columbus, Indiana USA, completed in 1957. It was built for American industrialist, philanthropist, and architecture patron J. Irwin Miller.

TWA Terminal JFK Airport Interior

TWA Terminal JFK Airport Interior

TWA Terminal JFK Airport2

TWA Terminal JFK Airport

TWA Terminal JFK Airport3 completed in 1963

TWA Terminal JFK Airport completed in 1963

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