The man behind the name.

Born on August 20, 1910, Finnish-American architect and industrial designer Eero Saarinen was immersed in the world of design right from the outset. His parents were renowned in their fields – his father the great architect and Art Director at Cranbrook Academy of Art Eliel Saarinen, and his mother the textile artist Loja Saarinen. Immersed in a culture of design under their guidance, it seemed a natural progression when Eero began helping his father design furniture and fixtures at the Cranbrook campus while still in his teens. After a year of studying sculpture in Paris in 1929, Eero enrolled in the architecture program at Yale University.

Eero’s professional career in the United States began with a 2-year stint at the Flint Institute of Research and Planning in Michigan, where he immersed himself in housing and city planning research. In 1938, he left the institute to join his father’s firm, beginning a decorated period of collaboration which saw the duo win numerous competitions for their innovative designs.

It was at Cranbrook that Eero became acquainted with Charles Eames. The two of them quickly became fast friends, kicking off what would become one of the most successful partnerships in the history of design. Perhaps their most notable collaboration was the revolutionary collection of molded plywood chairs for the MoMA-sponsored 1940 Organic Design in Home Furnishings competition, where they won first place in all categories. The success of the collection launched them to the forefront of the modern American furniture movement.

The Knoll connection.

While at Cranbrook, Saarinen also met another young designer who would go on to become a titan in the design world in her own right – Florence Knoll. A promising young protegé of Eero’s father, she spent a great deal of her spare time with the Saarinen family, even joining them on their summer vacations to Finland. It was this familial closeness that led to the sibling-esque dynamic that defined Eero and Florence’s relationship, and fostered a powerful partnership when the two joined forces at Knoll in the 1940s.

During his 15 years with the company, Eero Saarinen created many of Knoll’s most recognizable designs, such as the eminently stylish and timeless Tulip collection of tables and chairs, and the forever iconic Womb chair.

Architectural Projects

A leading 2nd-generation modernist, Saarinen constantly pushed material and aesthetic boundaries beyond the world of furniture. Some of his most famous and enduring works include Dulles International Airport in Washington D.C., the Gateway Arch in St. Louis, Missouri, and the TWA terminal at JFK Airport New York.

Shop our collection of Knoll Saarinen designs online or in-store at our Vancouver showroom.