Although Eero Saarinen made his reputation in the United States following World War II, he had his roots in Europe. Until 1923, he lived in Finland with his mother, textile artist Loja Saarinen, and his father, the renowned architect and town planner, Eliel Saarinen. For Eero, architecture was a discipline like the fine arts, and in particular, sculpture. He called himself a "form giver" and everything he designed had a strong sculptural quality.
Saarinen began his career as a student at Yale University and after travels and studies in Europe returned to the U.S. and taught for a brief period at Cranbrook Academy. Cranbrook had been founded in 1927 by publisher George C. Booth and Eliel Saarinen, the latter of whom became Director in 1932. Two of its graduates were Charles Eames and Florence Knoll Bassett (then Schust). Saarinen and Eames collaborated on various projects, culminating in a range of furniture that won first prize at an exhibition held at the Museum of Modern Art in New York in 1940 entitled, "Organic Design in Home Furnishings." After 1946, Eames went to work for Herman Miller, and Saarinen became associated with Knoll® Associates. A number of Saarinen's chairs for Knoll were to become landmarks in the history of 20th century design.
A request from Florence Knoll Bassett to create "a chair she could curl up in," led to Saarinen's 1948 design of the Womb Chair and Ottoman. In the decade that followed, Saarinen created a range of office chairs for Knoll, as well as his classic Pedestal Table and Tulip™ Chair. Saarinen's stated objective with the Pedestal Collection was to clear up the "slum of legs" in domestic interiors. Like his furniture, Saarinen's architecture is characterized by expressive sculptural forms. Among his masterworks are the TWA Terminal at Kennedy Airport, New York; Dulles International Airport, Washington, D.C.; and the Gateway Arch in St. Louis, Missouri