dining room

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.

designers i admire: timothy whealon

Timothy Whealon. His NYC apt has been widely published and I gobble up every publication that shows it in hopes that there might be some new angle of some corner of some room that I haven't studied yet. Of course, I love visiting his web site to see even more of his work. Here's a photo of a room that really resonates with me. I've been hoping to achieve this look with my own similar table. In particular, I've been trying to muster up the courage to build my very own banquette. For sure someday...

I also love the mood here -- I call it soft modern or decorated modern. Chairs and table are recognizable icons, but the wallpaper, mix of fabrics and the styling say so much as well. And the styling. Since my life is so consumed with styling, I can't help but notice it. With the little orange trees, croissants, teacups, juice etc etc. it's almost cluttered -- but that's what I love. That's showing me how enjoyable this space is -- see what a lovely place it is to have a Sunday morning linger? This is what convinces me that it is a successfully designed room. I remark all of this because so many people who own these iconic furniture pieces just put in the furniture and leave it at that. To me that is quite boring -- like wearing the same designer's clothes from head to toe or the look right off the store in the mannequin. I think it's supposed to send a message -- "I have good taste, I don't make mistakes." I think it sends the message -- "I can't think on my own. I'm afraid to get it wrong." 

I think Timothy Whealon gets it right.