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Eero Saarinen

Eero Saarinen

*  1910 Kirkkonummi/Finnland
† 1961 Ann Arbor/USA

The Finnish architect and designer Eero Saarinen, a leading exponent of organic design, was born in 1910. Eero Saarinen was the son of the architect Eliel Saarinen. In 1929/30 Eero Saarinen studied sculpture at the Académie de la Grande Chaumičre in Paris before studying architecture at Yale in New Haven, Connecticut, until 1934. From 1936 Eero Saarinen worked in his father's architectural practice and also taught at Cranbrook Academy in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan, of which Eliel Saarinen had been director since the Academy was founded in 1932. At Cranbrook, Eero Saarinen met Charles Eames in the late 1930s. Together they took part in the 1940 competition "Organic design in Home Furnishings" held by the Museum of Modern Art in New York. Their entry was a chair of molded laminated wood, which, however, proved too complex for mass production. Although Charles Eames continued to experiment with molding plywood for furniture, Eero Saarinen turned to other materials. For Knoll International Eero Saarinen designed the "Grasshopper" armschair in 1946/47, which featured bent laminated wood supports. In 1947/48 Eero Saarinen designed the "Womb" collection for Knoll International, which, as the name implies, was intended to make users feel as secure and cozy as a fetus in the womb. In 1955/56 Eero Saarinen developed a collection of chairs and tables made of plastic with a single, central leg that ended on the floor in a circular plate. This "Pedestal Group" includes the signature "Tulip chair". In 1951 Eero Saarinen designed the "Saarinen Collection" (for Knoll) of office chairs –one of the first lines in designer office furniture. On the death of his father in 1950, Eero Saarinen took over his architecture practice and ran it as Saarinen & Associates in Birmingham until 1961. Eero Saarinen's architectural masterpiece is the TWA terminal at J.F. Kennedy Airport in New York (1956-1952). Between 1958 and 1963 Dulles International Airport near Washington, DC, which Eero Saarinen had designed, was under construction.