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The Mid-Century Modern Office

eero saarinen office

 

This fantastic mid-century modern office looks like it’s straight off the set of AMC’s Mad Men or a James Bond film, but it’s actually the original office of Harley Earl, Vice President of Design at General Motors.

 

Harley Earl was a visionary and innovator, being the originator of clay modeling for automotive designs, designer of wrap-around windshields, two-tone paint and the iconic 1950s tail fins. It’s no wonder that he hired Eero Saarinen and Associates to design the interior of his offices.

 

The office was a beautiful mixture of cherry wood, organic form and technology. The desk had built-in TV control, temperature controls, and a desk light that would automatically rise up and illuminate the work space at the push of a button.

 

The space was put together with such detail that a Finn Juhl armchair was customized into a swivel chair so it would match with the others in the room. Along with the modern, there were also touches that reflected GM’s history, for example, the round design of the desk and built-in sofas  mirrored the wood molds once used to form the panels on car bodies. Other custom touches in the office were ceramic planters were designed by Mia Grotel, and ashtrays by Natzlers.

 

Now after 50 years the office is still in pristine shape and now occupied by Ed Welburn, the current Chief of Design at GM. The office wasn’t always appreciated though. During the tenure of the VPs of Design between then and now, it was considered “dated” and at times referred to as “Dracula’s Bathroom”, but people are starting to understand the significance of its design. “Now people come in, you have to charge them admission. I don’t take this office for granted at all. The more I learn about Saarinen and Harley Earl, the more I treasure this space.”

 

eero saarinen GM office

 

 

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The office, 50 years later is still in pristine condition and still used daily by Ed Welburn.

 

 

 

Mid-Century Modern Office

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  • Nico: The kitchen and audio gifts really inspire me, as Christmas is coming :). Thank you.
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  • Jan OConnell: Hard crowd to please...If he didn't use his name, would you still be making such hard comments? He's been drawing for a long time and his major in college was architecture. So hobby, no...second career yes. He has excellent taste in furniture and the homes he's designed. He's been into design since moving to LA and has spent most of his time in antique/vintage stores around the world. He has taste, I personally love the dining and cocktail tables...are they a play on another design, maybe...as artists, we all take from other designs. It's human and it's how we evolve as artists to become better artists.
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  • Linda Fougerousse: I like the tables, however, I agree I've seen the spring table in several collections already. Not lovin the bed. There is a reason they're showing it undressed!
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  • iris fingerhut: having good taste does not mean you are a designer. we have seen so many celebs turn to design as a way of expanding their "brand". macy's star line-up has made this practice legit. the donald trump collection? please... i find this furniture derivative on the whole and some things in particular, bad design. the bed, especially. that extension at the foot of the bed is a real knee slammer!. i guess being a wealthy,handsome, talented actor, father of 6, philanthropist is not quite enough to keep brad busy... i find this whole trend a terrible one. do what you do best, and leave it to designers to design. if it weren't for the name recognition and celebrity, most of these "collections" would never see the light of day.
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  • Brooke Richards: Hey, if Brad Pitt wants to try his hand at something new, he should go for it. Why not, there will always be purists, nay-sayers & critic's. The chair, in a sunny corner sitting with my back in the curve of the back & the arm, my legs thrown over the front of the opposite arm, feet dangling, reading a good book! By the way, see the resemblence to Batman's mask anyone? The tub, yep clearly the man knows bathtime playtime. Enough said! The side table, love it too. Looks like the physical expression of the motion of Samantha's wand on 'BeWitched'. The bed, cool, angular metal, smooth wood curves, platform beds aren't for everyone. Just give me the wild legged polished wood table/bench. What a lot of fun, the surprises in life, life does have it's crazy sharp turns......
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