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 protégé 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.