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Eero Saarinen


Eero Saarinen (August 20, 1910 – September 1, 1961) was a Finnish American architect and industrial designer of the 20th century famous for shaping his neofuturistic style according to the demands of the project: simple, sweeping, arching structural curves or machine-like rationalism.

He first received critical recognition, while still working for his father, for a chair designed together with Charles Eames for the "Organic Design in Home Furnishings" competition in 1940, for which they received first prize.
 
Biography

Eero Saarinen, the son of influential Finnish architect Eliel Saarinen and his second wife, Louise, was born on his father's 37th birthday, August 20, 1910. They emigrated to the United States of America in 1923, when Eero was thirteen. He grew up in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan, where his father was a teacher at the Cranbrook Academy of Art and he took courses in sculpture and furniture design there. He had a close relationship with fellow students Charles and Ray Eames, and became good friends with Florence Knoll (née Schust).

Beginning in September 1929, he studied sculpture at the Académie de la Grande Chaumière in Paris, France. He then went on to study at the Yale School of Architecture, completing his studies in 1934. Subsequently, he toured Europe and North Africa for a year and returned for a year to his native Finland, after which he returned to Cranbrook to work for his father and teach at the academy. He became a naturalized citizen of the United States in 1940. Saarinen was recruited by Donal McLaughlin, an architectural school friend from his Yale days, to join the military service in the Office of Strategic Services (OSS). Saarinen was assigned to draw illustrations for bomb disassembly manuals and to provide designs for the Situation Room in the White House. Saarinen worked full-time for the OSS until 1944. After his father's death in 1950, Saarinen founded his own architect's office, "Eero Saarinen and Associates". Eero Saarinen died of a brain tumor in 1961 at the age of 51.
 
Furniture Design
Womb Chair by Earo SaarinenSaarinen first received critical recognition, while still working for his father, for a chair designed together with Charles Eames for the "Organic Design in Home Furnishings" competition in 1940, for which they received first prize. The "Tulip Chair", like all other Saarinen chairs, was taken into production by the Knoll furniture company, founded by Hans Knoll, who married Saarinen family friend Florence (Schust) Knoll. Further attention came also while Saarinen was still working for his father, when he took first prize in the 1948 competition for the design of the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial, St. Louis, not completed until the 1960s. The competition award was mistakenly sent to his father. He designed furniture with organic architecture.
"Pedestal" Armchair and Seat Cushion, Designed 1956 Brooklyn Museum

During his long association with Knoll he designed many important pieces of furniture including the "Grasshopper" lounge chair and ottoman (1946), the "Womb" chair and ottoman (1948), the "Womb" settee (1950), side and arm chairs (1948–1950), and his most famous "Tulip" or "Pedestal" group (1956), which featured side and arm chairs, dining, coffee and side tables, as well as a stool. All of these designs were highly successful except for the "Grasshopper" lounge chair, which, although in production through 1965, was not a big success.

Eero worked with his father, mother and sister designing elements of the Cranbrook campus in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan, including the Cranbrook School, Kingswood School, the Cranbrook Art Academy and the Cranbrook Science Institute. Eero's leaded glass designs are a prominent feature of these buildings throughout the campus.
 
Reputation
Eero Saarinen was elected a Fellow of the American Institute of Architects in 1952. He is also a winner of the AIA Gold Medal in 1962.

Saarinen is now considered one of the masters of American 20th-century architecture. There has been a surge of interest in Saarinen's work in recent years, including a major exhibition and several books. This is partly because the Roche and Dinkeloo office has donated its Saarinen archives to Yale University, but also because Saarinen's oeuvre can be said to fit in with present-day concerns about pluralism of styles. He was criticized in his own time—most vociferously by Yale's Vincent Scully—for having no identifiable style; one explanation for this is that Saarinen adapted his neofuturistic vision to each individual client and project, which were never exactly the same.
 
Gallery
Womb Chair