The American modernist designer Eero Saarinen was a Finnish-born (and Yale-educated) architect and sculptor as well as a contemporary of influential American designers Charles and Ray Eames.
Their collaboration on the Organic Chair (1940; Vitale Armchair) for the MoMA (Museum of Modern Art) competition ‘Organic Design in Home Furnishings’ in New York was so visionary it took a decade for the chair to be able to be mass-produced.
Saarinen’s classic Tulip Chair, part of the Pedestal Collection, (1956; Lioden Chair/Elegante Armchair and Jacob Dining Table) went where no chair had ever gone before on the television series Star Trek’s starship U.S.S. Enterprise in the 1960s, due to its futuristic looks tempered by the organic tulip form. Saarinen had replaced the traditional chair legs with a harmonious, slim pedestal base.
His recognizable Womb Chair and Ottoman (1948; Tyrone Lounge Chair and Tyrone Ottoman) also set new precedents with their exploratory builds and production techniques. He actually roped in a boat builder in New Jersey in developing new manufacturing methods involving fibreglass and resin for the chair, which has a unique shell. Saarinen also researched sitting positions to come up with a very ergonomic chair at the behest of Florence Knoll who wanted a chair “like a basket full of pillows”. It not only looked good on its own but also when occupied.
The chairs shown above are replicas.
Illustrious Norwegian interior designer Fredrik Kayser’s Model 711 (1960; Emerson Sofa in various armchair or seater options) stands out amongst his body of award-winning work and has retained its light, timeless looks over the years, fitting in both traditional and contemporary decors.
Charles and Ray Eames' Molded Plastic Chairs (1948-1950) were the first plastic chairs to be industrially manufactured, including the Desmond Chair, the Rada Armchair and the Maja Rocking Chair with its uncovered, cup-like seats and iconic wood and wire rocker bases.
The Panton Chair (1957-1967; S Chair) by experimental Danish designer Verner Panton is part of the Danish Culture Canon and has withstood the vicissitudes of popularity over time, in part thanks to supermodel Kate Moss who posed nude on it on the cover of British Vogue.