The purpose of architecture is to shelter and enhance…life on earth and to fulfill… belief in the nobility of …existence.
Born to design feted parents, Eliel and Loja, Eero Saarinen was born to create. It would come as little of surprise that Eero would later become a titan of midcentury American architecture. He passed his formative years within the bounds of his father’s architectural office. A very young Eero would be sitting under his father’s drafting table while Eliel was working on commissions above. Not so later, a teenage Eero was helping his father design furniture and fixtures for Cranbrook Academy.
After studying in Paris and Yale, Saarinen returned to Michigan to teach and design at Cranbrook alongside his father. It was at Cranbrook that Eero Saarinen met Charles Eames (below left); both committed to the exploration of new materials and processes, they quickly became great friends who often motivated each other creatively and collaborated frequently on many projects.
Eero also met Florence Knoll (below right) at Cranbrook, who was then a promising young protégé of his father. Florence spent all of her free time with the Saarinen family, including summer vacations to Finland. Florence and Eero developed a brother-sister like, life long relationship. Florence later recalled that her history with Eero made him her most honest and, often, most harsh critic. When Florence joined Knoll in the 1940s, it was an obvious choice for her to invite Eero to design for the company.
Eero, who was known for being obsessed with revision, and deemed as a ‘workaholic’ at the office, took a sculptural approach to furniture design, building hundreds of models and full scale mock-ups to achieve ‘perfection’. His designs, which employed modern materials in graceful, organic shapes, helped establish the reputation and identity of Knoll during its formative years. He created his own architectural firm and went on to design and build notable structures, until his early death aged 51 in 1961.
Saarinen designed many of the most recognisable Knoll pieces, including the Tulip chairs and tables, the Womb chair, and Conference chairs all available at minima.