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Saarinen coffee table

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  • Designer With the Pedestal Collection, Eero Saarinen vowed to eliminate the “slum of legs” found under chairs and tables with four legs. He worked first with hundreds of drawings, which were followed by ¼ scale models. Since the compelling idea was to design chairs that looked good in a room, the model furniture was set up in a scaled model room the size of a doll house.

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    Drawing on his early training as a sculptor, Saarinen refined his design through full scale models, endlessly modifying the shape with clay. “What interests me is when and where to use these structural plastic shapes. Probing even more deeply into different possibilities one finds many different shapes are equally logical-some ugly, some exciting, some earthbound, some soaring. The choices really become a sculptor’s choice.”

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    Saarinen was assisted by Don Petitt, of Knoll’s Design Development Group, who introduced several ingenious methods of model making. Together with a Knoll design research team, they worked out the problems arising in production. Full scale models became furniture and, with family and friends acting as “guinea pigs,” the furniture was tested in the dining room and living room of the Saarinen house in Bloomfield Hills.

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    DISCOVER KNOLL STONE, THE STORY BEHIND THE TABLE

    Born to world famous architect and Cranbrook Academy of Art Director Eliel Saarinen and textile artist Loja Saarinen, Eero Saarinen was surrounded by design his whole life. By the time he was in his teens, Eero was helping his father design furniture and fixtures for the Cranbrook campus. After studying sculpture in Paris and architecture at Yale, Saarinen returned to Cranbrook in 1934.

    It was at Cranbrook that Saarinen met Charles Eames. The two young men, both committed to exploring new materials and processes, quickly became great friends and creative collaborators. They worked together on several projects, most notably their groundbreaking collection of molded plywood chairs for 1940 competition Organic Design in Home Furnishings, sponsored by MoMA.

    At Cranbrook, Saarinen also met Florence Knoll, who at that time was a promising young prot g of Eliel Saarinen. When Florence joined Knoll in the 1940s, she invited Eero to design for the company. Saarinen went on to design many of Knoll's most recognizable pieces, including the Tulip chairs and tables, the Womb chair, and the 70 Series of seating. In addition to these achievements, Saarinen became a leader of the second-generation modernists. Among his outstanding projects are the Dulles International Airport in Washington, D.C., the Gateway Arch in St. Louis, and New York's CBS Building and TWA Terminal at Kennedy International Airport.











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