Eero Saarinen St. Louis Arch
You might know him from his furniture design, but Eero Saarinen was the modernist architect responsible for the St. Louis Gateway Arch. Courtesy of Knoll.

Finnish architect Eero Saarinen is best known for his iconic neo-futuristic style. Born in 1910 with an architect for a father and a textile artist for a mother, it’s no surprise that Saarinen ended up working in the wold of design too!

eero saarinen and charles eames 1939
Saarinen and Charles Eames together in the late ’30s. Courtesy of Knoll.

He got his start by designing furniture in the 1940s and 50s (often with his father), and collaborated with architectural greats like Florence Knoll and Ray and Charles Eames. He remained friends with many of them until his death in 1961.

Two of his most celebrated works are the Womb Chair, which looks like a round chair loosely molded into the shape of an armchair, and the Tulip Chair, made out of fiberglass and aluminum and exists as one of the first one-legged chairs.

Eero Saarinen Womb Chair Vintage Ad
The swanky mod style of Eero Saarinen pops off the page in these vintage ads for his Tulip Arm Chair (left) and Womb Chair. Courtesy of Phaidon.

His innovative use of fiberglass for the Tulip Chair and one-legged design inspired other architects to follow in his footsteps and create furnishings with similar characteristics. The bright, warm colors he used for his furniture—red, white, yellow and orange—and could brighten up any room.

eero saarinen twa flight center jfk
Saarinen’s TWA Flight Center at JFK, designed in 1962. The space was closed in 2001, but recently reopened as a hotel! Courtesy of HypeBeast.

But Saarinen’s work didn’t stop with furniture— he created his own architectural firm (Eero Saarinen and Associates) and designed and built many notable buildings you’ve probably seen yourself! These were buildings and monuments like the TWA Flight Center at New York City’s JFK Airport and the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial (the Gateway Arch), in St. Louis, MO.

Most of Saarinen’s architecture utilizes catenary curves, the curve that occurs from a cable being supported at both ends, like the way telephone wires hang in a curve. With these dramatic curves, his buildings seem to defy the laws of physics.

eero saarinen mit chapel interior
The MIT Chapel at MIT, designed in 1955. Saarinen created an enclosed space believing it “implied the self-contained, inward-feeling which was desirable” for a place of worship. Courtesy of MIT.

Saarinen also designed many structures for college campuses nationwide, like dormitories at University of Pennsylvania or the MIT Chapel at MIT.

Throughout his life, Saarinen received many prestigious awards from institutions like the MoMA, Boston Arts Festival and even from the US Embassy in London! In 1952, Saarinen was elected a Fellow of the American Institute of Architects, and was posthumously given a gold medal by them as well.

eero saarinen pedestal collection
Saarinen’s iconic Pedestal Collection, created in 1958. Courtesy of Knoll.

Saarinen’s influence has extended through the years because of his vibrant, modern designs. Today, Saarinen is thought of as one of the masters of American 20th-century architecture. His bold and inventive work still engages people because of his eye-catching, modernistic style.

You can still purchase many of his innovative designs at Knoll.com! And learn more about one of Saarinen’s close friends, Florence Knoll here, and of course, don’t forget to follow us on InstagramFacebook and Pinterest for more Atomic Ranch articles and ideas!