Eero Saarinen

chair crush: saarinen executive

Here's a chair I quite like. It was designed in 1957 by Eero Saarinen and is called the Saarinen Executive chair. I've seen it many many times in print, but only just recently experienced it in real life. The other day I enjoyed a lovely lunch at Mildred's Temple Kitchen here in Toronto. The dining room features a flock of these lovelies.

The lunch company was excellent -- a very charming exec from Benjamin Moore and her crackerjack NYC PR team. We lingered and lingered and lingered. I assure you that in a business as crazy and deadline-packed as mine is, long leisurely lunches are by far the exception rather than the rule. Fact is, some days I'm lucky if I can choke back a peanut butter granola bar while fighting cross-town traffic scouting. But I digress. The point I'm trying to make is that I think that the comfort of the chairs played as much of a role in the enjoyment and length of this lunch as did the excellent food and company. The comfort of a dining chair is no small affair. Interestingly, as you may have guessed from its name, the Executive was designed for the workplace. Can't you picture it in the offices of Sterling Cooper?


It's an incredibly versatile design. The Exec fits our modern preference for a fully upholstered dining chair.  It has clean and simple lines but is heaps more interesting than the ubiquitous Parsons. The armchair version is easily moved from dining table to lounge area and back to suit the occasion. And speaking of moving, the little peak-a-boo in the back is no accident -- it's the most discreet "handle" ever designed -- he was a smartypants that Eero! And not to worry if metal legs are just a little too chilly looking for you, wooden versions are an option. And if you did want to keep it in the office, it also comes in an adjustable version with wheels. What's not to love? 

sources: 1, 5: knoll studio. 2: mildred's. 3: dwr. 4: met home via elle decor.

tom, plato & saarinen

Stopped dead in my tracks on the weekend when I read this. It's from ELLE Decor June/July 2003 and the quote is from Tom Scheerer describing the white lacquer Saarinen table. He calls it:

"The Platonic absolute of a table. All you really see is what's on top and around it."

So, I think I have mentioned Mr. Scheerer before. I quite love his work -- especially his county and beach houses: Relaxed but fully decorated. Judicious use of antiques. Warm modernity -- the best kind. And texture -- the man uses texture so so very beautifully. But today is about the Saarinen tulip table -- and that quote. When have you heard such insight? "The Platonic absolute of a table." There is such depth in design and I love when a writer and an interviewee can really dig deep. Here are some lovely examples of Tom's use of the Platonic absolute of a table:

Earlier: Charleston houseLater: Bahamas houseAll of these are from Tom's portfolio. See more of his genius here.

And just for fun, here are some pics of my use of that same style of table:

last 2 photos: paul c