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.
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.”
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.
Eero Saarinen was born to world famous parents, architect and Cranbrook Academy of Art director Eliel Saarinen and textile artist Loja Saarinen, Eero Saarinen was surrounded by design his whole life. It came as no surprise that Eero was helping his father design furniture and fixtures for the Cranbrook campus by the time he was in his teens. In 1929 Eero left for Paris where he studied sculpture before enrolling in the Yale architecture program the following year. In 1934, he returned to Michigan to teach at Cranbrook, work on furniture designs, and practice architecture with his father.
It was at Cranbrook that Saarinen met Charles Eames. The two young men, both committed to the exploration of potential new materials and processes, quickly became great friends, pushing each other creatively while collaborating on several projects. The most notable outcome of their partnership was the groundbreaking collection of molded plywood chairs for the MoMA-sponsored 1940 Organic Design in Home Furnishings competition. Their collection was awarded first prize in all categories, catapulting the young designers to the forefront of the American modern furniture movement.
Knoll uses modern design to connect people to their work, their lives, their world. Since 1938, Knoll has been recognized internationally for creating workplace and residential furnishings that inspire, evolve, and endure.
Today, their commitment to modern design, their understanding of the nature of work, and their dedication to sustainable design have yielded a unique portfolio of thoughtful products that respond and adapt to changing needs.
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