Saarinen, who died in 1961, was a prominent architect best known for such iconic landmarks as the TWA Terminal in New York and the Gateway Arch in St. Louis, but he was also a significant furniture designer, arguably what he's best known for today. The show includes early pieces like the famous "Grasshopper Chair" (pictured) from the 1940s, the provocatively named "Womb" chair, also from the 1940s, and his most successful idea, the "Tulip" chairs and tables, done in the mid- to late '50s.
The "Tulip" chairs represented a radical idea at the time, because instead of having four legs, they had single pedestal bases. Saarinen said that his intention was to abolish "the miserable maze of legs" that characterizes a typical interior. Though it's been more than half a century since he died, his designs are still in production, having attracted the attention of several generations of furniture buyers and with no apparent end to their popular appeal.
The exhibition includes informative wall panels that follow Saarinen's career and place him in the context of the modern movement of the mid-twentieth century. He was the son of a world-famous architect, Eliel Saarinen, who was the founding director of the Cranbrook Academy, where the younger Saarinen came in contact with other significant designers of the period, notably Florence Knoll, Harry Bertoia and Charles Eames. Some of Saarinen's first designs were done in collaboration with Eames.
The Furniture of Eero Saarinen closes November 28.