An architect and designer.
Eero Saarinen 1910 – 1961
Eero Saarinen was born in Finland but emigrated to the United States when he was thirteen when his father got a job teaching at the Cranbrook Academy of Art in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan. It was at Cranbrook, where Saarinen took classes in sculpture and furniture design, that he met Charles and Ray Eames and Florence Knoll.Saarinen studied in Paris and the Yale School of Architecture before returning to Cranbrook as a teacher. In 1940 he entered an “Organic Design in Home Furnishings” competition with Charles Eames – the chair they submitted to the competition won first prize. During World War II he joined the Office of Strategic Services (OSS), drawing illustrations for bomb disassembly manuals. After leaving the OSS in 1944, Saarinen continued to work on furniture design, creating many important works for the Knoll company, including the Grashpper, Womb and Tulip (or Pedestal) chairs. Of these, Saarinen is most well known for the Tulip series of chairs, dining and side tables, which remain in production today.In 1948 Saarinen took first prize in another competition: this one to design the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial in St. Louis. His prize-winning design is now more commonly known as the Gateway Arch or Gateway to the West.
Saarinen founded his own architecture firm, Eero Saarinen and Associates in 1950. Several of his early building designs for corprate headquarters and universities were Meisian in style, but later he started incorporating catenary curves in thin-shell concrete structures on projects like the Dulles International Airport main terminal and the Kresge Auditorium at MIT.
The interiors of many Saarinen buildings are done in a 1960s space-age style. In fact, the interior of the Noyes House dormitory he designed at Vassar College is affectionately referred to as the “Jetsons lounge.”
Saarinen served as a jurist on the Sydney Opera House commission and named his third child, a son, “Eames,” in honor of his friendship with the designers.
He died at the age of 51 in Ann Arbor, Michigan.
Written by Katherine Raz.
Tagged designer biographies, Eero Saarinen