Name: Tulip Chair
Designer: Eero Saarinen
Manufactured for: Knoll
Materials: Aluminium base, Fiberglass frame. Leather or fabric cushions
Style / tradition: Modern
Sold and manufactured by Knoll
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The tulip chair was primarily designed as a chair to match the complementary dining table. The chair has the smooth lines of modernism and was experimental with materials for its time. The chair is considered a classic of industrial design. The chair is also often considered “space age” for its futuristic use of curves and artificial materials.
The history of the design
Saarinen had hoped to produce the chair as a one piece unit made entirely of fiberglass, but this material was not able to support the base, and prototypes were prone to breakage. As a result, the base of the tulip chair is of cast aluminum with a rilsan-coated finish to match the upper shell, giving the appearance of a single unit. The upper shell is molded fiberglass, with a reinforced, plastic bonded finish. The upholstered foam cushion is removable with Velcro fastening.
Saarinen was awarded a patent for the Tulip chair in 1960.
Life and Interesting Facts
Eero Saarinen (August 20, 1910 – September 1, 1961) was a Finnish American architect and industrial designer noted for his neo-futuristic style. Saarinen is known for designing the Washington Dulles International Airport outside Washington, D.C., the TWA Flight Center in New York City, and the Gateway Arch in St. Louis, Missouri. He was the son of noted Finnish architect Eliel Saarinen.
They immigrated to the United States in 1923, when Eero was thirteen. He grew up in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan, where his father taught and was dean of the Cranbrook Academy of Art, and he took courses in sculpture and furniture design there. He had a close relationship with fellow students Charles and Ray Eames, and became good friends with Florence Knoll.
Saarinen began studies in sculpture at the Académie de la Grande Chaumière in Paris, France, in September 1929. He then went on to study at the Yale School of Architecture, completing his studies in 1934. Subsequently, he toured Europe and North Africa for a year and returned for a year to his native Finland.
Eero Saarinen was elected a Fellow of the American Institute of Architects in 1952. He was elected a member of the National Institute of Arts and Letters in 1954. In 1962, he was posthumously awarded a gold medal by the American Institute of Architects.
In 1940, he received two first prizes together with Charles Eames in furniture design competition of MoMA. In 1948, he won the first prize in Jefferson national monument competition. Boston Arts festival in 1953 gave him Grand architectural award. He received the First Honor award of the American Institute of Architects twice, in 1955 and 1956, and their gold medal in 1962. In 1965 he got the first prize in US Embassy competition in London.
Saarinen became a naturalized citizen of the United States in 1940.
Saarinen married sculptor Lilian Swann in 1939, with whom he had two children, Eric and Susan. The marriage ended in divorce in 1954. That same year Saarinen married Aline Bernstein Louchheim, an art critic at The New York Times, with whom he had a son, Eames, named after Saarinen’s collaborator Charles Eames.
The undercarriage of chairs and tables in a typical interior makes an ugly, confusing, unrestful world. I wanted to clear up the slum of legs. I wanted to make the chair all one thing again – Eero Saarinen