Eero Saarinen, 1910 - 1961
Born to world famous parents, architect and Cranbrook Academy of Art director Eliel Saarinen and textile artist Loja Saarinen, Eero Saarinen was surrounded by design his whole life. It came as no surprise that Eero was helping his father design furniture and fixtures for the Cranbrook campus by the time he was in his teens.
In 1929 Eero left for Paris where he studied sculpture before enrolling in the Yale architecture program the following year. In 1934, he returned to Michigan to teach at Cranbrook, work on furniture designs, and practice architecture with his father.
Saarinen met Florence Knoll (né Schust) at Cranbrook, who at that time was a promising young protégé of Eliel Saarinen. Florence spent all of her free time with the Saarinen family, including summer vacations to Finland. When Florence joined Knoll in the 1940s, it was an obvious choice for her to invite Eero to design for the company.
Over the next 15 years Saarinen designed many of the most recognizable Knoll pieces, including the Tulip chairs and tables, the Womb chair, and the 70 series seating collection. Eero, who was known for being obsessed with revision, took a sculptural approach to furniture design, building hundreds of models and full scale mock-ups to achieve the perfect curve, find the right line, and derive the most pleasing proportions. His designs, which employed modern materials in graceful, organic shapes, helped establish the reputation and identity of Knoll during its formative years.
Among his outstanding architectural projects are the Gateway Arch in St. Louis, the TWA Terminal at Kennedy International Airport, CBS headquarters in New York, and Dulles Airport in Washington, DC.