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| Designbest editorial staff

W

hy not get rid of the “ugly, confused, restless world” which exists underneath tables and chair? Eero Saarinen must have asked himself this same question many times over. Eero Saarinen is an ambitious Finnish-American architect and product designer, who first gained international acclaim in the fifties. The mess created by table and chair legs in homes and restaurants was a matter which really bothered him. We have to “design each thing in relation to its wider context: a chair in a room, a room in a house, a house in a street, a street in an urban plan”. This is what Saarinen kept repeating.

Saarinen was constantly experimenting with new ideas. With what scope? A never ending quest to find the perfect solution. This was especially true about Tulip, the table designed in 1956 for Knoll, inspired by a desire to get rid of that unseemly “tangle” in the dining room. Available in a variety of different styles _ from a coffee table to a dinner table_ Tulip resolved with a simple yet brilliant idea the problem of untidy legs: a stem base. Clean, sleek and discretely chic.

Ground-breaking for its times and still incredibly current. However, Tulip's strong suit is not only its shape. In fact, even the choice of materials represents true innovation: lacquered die-cast aluminium with top in either timber or marble. The manufacturing process and the materials used are the key features of this piece, transforming simple experimentation into a distinct trade mark.

Even so, Saarinen wasn't completely happy. He thought a matching chair was missing: this is what led him to think of Tulip chair. Tulip chair was the missing piece: fibreglass swivel base and named after the flower it's inspired by. And this is where, the idea of a stem comes from.

The Tulip furniture series, also known as Pedestal, sums up the soul of Saarinen. Thanks to the influence of another great architect, Charles Eames, he was able to shake up conventional design pushing it to new grounds: materials other than timber, asymmetric shapes, no obvious embellishments. It's clear that Saarinen started a new phase in design. Tulip chair even appeared in the sixties TV series Star Trek as a futuristic piece fit for a space shuttle. This was most definitely a ground-breaking concept; as current today as it was when it first entered into production. Tulip is the timeless piece of the future! 

 

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