Eero Saarinen (1910-1961)
At the age of 12, Eero Saarinen took first place in a matchstick design contest. It was the first of many competitions he would win in his life, and foreshadowed his remarkable career as an architect.
He grew up in a home where drawing and painting were taken very seriously, and a devotion to quality and professionalism was instilled in him at an early age. He was the son of Eliel Saarinen, a noted and respected architect. His mother Loja Saarinen was a sculptor, weaver and photographer. He was taught early that each object should be designed in its “next largest context – a chair in a room, a room in a house, a house in an environment in a city plan.”
The Saarinens emigrated from Finland to the US and settled in Michigan. After studies at Yale School of Architecture Eero Saarinen became an instructor of design at the Cranbrook Academy, and joined his father’s architectural firm. During this period he began to build a reputation as an architect who refused to be restrained by any preconceived ideas. He continued to carefully study the site and its surroundings to ensure that the design encompassed the whole environment.
In 1937 Saarinen begun his collaboration with Charles Eames which culminated in a series of highly progressive and prize-winning furniture designs for The Museum of Modern Art´s 1940 "Organic Design in Home Furnishings" competition. One of the first office seating programmes – the No 71 model was also presented in this show. Saarinen later produced several highly successful furniture designs for Knoll International. One of the most well known, is the “Tulip” series with pedestal tables and chairs in aluminium and fibreglass from the mid 50’s. Saarinen’s mission in this model was to clean up “the slum of legs” in domestic interiors.
As his designs show, Eero Saarinen was a man of vision. He died at the age of 51, and is buried in Michigan. Though his life was tragically cut short, his vision lives on through the structures that he created. Eero Saarinen’s greatest architectural project was the remarkable TWA terminal at John F. Kennedy Airport, New York.