The famous Tulip chair by Eero Saarinen has completed 50 years as one of the most renowned designs of the 20th century and has done it in top form. The proposal was created in 1956 by American designer Eero Saarinen, with Finnish origin and a strong European influence.
The Tulip chair goes further the single piece of furniture, and it consists of a table and some chairs. The main characteristic they share is that forget the idea of legs to move to a single leg or pedestal concept. Thus, it maximizes the space below this table and chairs leaving free space for the user. The Tulip chair highlights the ability of its creator Eero Saarinen in mixing forms, materials and colors. Its single leg is made of painted aluminum, its seat in ABS plastic and its the cushion attached to the seat with Velcro. Eero Saarinen had the original idea of a fully plastic Tulip chair but because the pedestal was too weak to support the weight he passed to aluminum frame. We can find models with or without armrests, benches and tables of various sizes but all share the unity of style reflected in materials and forms. The upholstered cushions can be customized through the use of different fabrics and colors.
The success of the Tulip chair is that despite having more than 50 years, the whole line still appears modern through its functional, simple and expressive forms and as a design classic.
The Tulip chair by Eero Saarinen, pursuit of the perfect curve
Its creator, Eero Saarinen, was an architect, urban planner and Finnish writer. He moved to the United States with his father, the architect Eliel Saarinen, when he was a kid. He studied sculpture in Paris and architecture at Yale University with Albers, where he assimilated the latest European trends. He worked with his father in the studio of Cranbrook, at the time when both designed Crow Island School of Winnetka, Illinois.
In a first stage, he based on steel and glass rectilinear structures of the International Style, to later give way to free and creative forms made of reinforced concrete providing a unique and complex character to each building more in keeping with his character. It stresses the center General Motors in Michigan, commissioned after Second World War and which includes bricks drawn in various colors and fantasy stairs.
He later stressed his constructive boldness creating sharp contrasts of forms between the outside and the inside of his buildings by using dynamic volumes. One example of this is the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (1955) or the hockey rink of Yale University (1958).
His Gateway Arch, in Saint Luis, with its monumental character and its location in the highest point of the city, or the TWA terminal at Kennedy Airport in New York were some of his most important works. His work was decisive in the new orientation towards greater creativity and experimentalism of the architecture of the 50s, of which the Tulip chair is the epitome.
The chair of Eero Saarinen in futuristic style became the key object of the ship carrying the protagonists of Star Trek series thanks to its expression of modernity with the vision of a modern world anchored in the 50s but it still remains in force in the collective imagination.