Eero Saarinen was a Finnish-American architect and interior designer. He emigrated to the United States at the age of thirteen, when his father got a job teaching at the Cranbrook Academy of Art in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan. At Cranbrook, where Saarinen took sculpture and furniture design classes. There he met Charles and Ray Eames and Florence Knoll. Saarinen also studied in Paris and at the Yale School of Architecture. In 1940 he and Charles Eames entered an “Organic Design in Home Furnishings” and won first prize for the chair they submitted. Saarinen worked on furniture design, creating several important pieces for the Knoll company, including the Grashopper, Womb and Tulip (or Pedestal) chairs. Of his furniture, Saarinen is perhaps best-known for the Tulip series of chairs, dining and side tables, which are still in production today. In 1948, Saarinen won first prize in another design competition, this time for the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial in St. Louis. His winning design is now St. Louis’s most iconic landmark, the Gateway Arch or Gateway to the West.
In 1950, Saarinen founded his own architecture firm, Eero Saarinen and Associates. He started out working in Meisian in style, but later he started incorporating catenary curves in concrete. The Dulles International Airport main terminal and the Kresge Auditorium at MIT are two notable examples of his work in this style.
Eero could be considered a futurist, with many Saarinen interiors done in a 1960s space-age style. For example, the interior of the Noyes House dormitory he designed at Vassar College is affectionately called the “Jetsons lounge” by students and alumni.
He died at the age of 51 in Ann Arbor, Michigan.
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