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In the 1930s, Eero Saarinen created a range of organically-shaped plywood chairs. These went on to win the MoMA-sponsored 1940 Organic Design in Home Furnishings competition. This work inspired Saarinen to design a chair that would provide exceptional comfort from its shell alone, and not just from the furnishing. His luxurious and sculptural Executive Side Chair and the matching Executive Armchair were the results. The design won the 1969 Museum of Modern Art Award and the West Germany Federal Award for Industrial Design.
Eero Saarinen, the son of influential Finnish architect Eliel Saarinen and his second wife, Louise, was born on his father's 37th birthday, August 20, 1910. They emigrated to the United States of America in 1923, when Eero was thirteen.He grew up in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan, where his father was a teacher at the Cranbrook Academy of Art and he took courses in sculpture and furniture design there. He became good friends with Florence Knoll.
Beginning in September 1929, he studied sculpture at the Academie de la Grande Chaumere in Paris, France. He then went on to study at the Yale School of Architecture, completing his studies in 1934. Subsequently, he toured Europe and North Africa for a year and returned for a year to his native Finland, after which he returned to Cranbrook to work for his father and teach at the academy. He became a naturalized citizen of the United States in 1940. Saarinen was recruited by Donal McLaughlin, an architectural school friend from his Yale days, to join the military service in the Office of Strategic Services (OSS). Saarinen was assigned to draw illustrations for bomb disassembly manuals and to provide designs for the Situation Room in the White House. Saarinen worked full-time for the OSS until 1944. After his father's death in 1950, Saarinen founded his own architect's office, "Eero Saarinen and Associates". Eero Saarinen died of a brain tumor in 1961 at the age of 51.
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