Tulip Armless Chair
With his iconic Tulip collection, architect and designer Eero Saarinen (1910–61) vowed to “clear up the slum of legs,” as he described the visual clutter resulting from traditional furniture frames in a 1956 TIME magazine cover story. Central to this endeavor is the Pedestal table, whose round top on a slender, graceful pedestal would become a near ubiquitous — and oft-imitated — form. The Tulip armchair and the Tulip armless chair continue this streamlining in Saarinen’s modern, space-age aesthetic.
With its simplified silhouette and fiberglass body, the armless chair is at once elegant and industrial, a feat that Saarinen continually mastered in works ranging from furniture to architecture (think the St. Louis Arch and the TWA Terminal at New York’s John F. Kennedy Airport, which has reopened as a hotel). The designer originally tried to cast the entire seat in fiberglass, pushing the envelope of modern furniture production, but, to ensure stability, he eventually settled on a cast-aluminum base and fiberglass seat. In 1957, the chair was put into production through Knoll — Saarinen knew pioneering American designer Florence Knoll from his days at the Cranbrook Academy of Art, where he taught and took on design projects for the school. It has remained one of the legendary firm’s most popular seats ever since.
Given its sculptural shape, the Tulip armless chair can be paired with a Saarinen table for a wholly modern dining set — as it appears throughout the TWA Hotel — or hold its own as a side or accent chair, a popular touch by top residential designers today. The Velcro-attached seat cushion is available in over a dozen upholstery options, though the thoroughly space-age cherry red is undoubtedly the most famous.
Tulip Armless Chair
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