I’m realizing with this whole blogging process that I have somewhat of a history addiction and once I start researching a topic, I usually get lost in it and end up completely off the subject and then behind on deadlines. I didn’t realize that the history of tulip table would lead to hours of reading and research. It’s possible that I’m a nerd and no one else wants to hear about it, but I’m going to relay some of the most interesting historical facts anyway.
Eero Saarinen, a Finnish architect and designer, designed the ever popular tulip table back in the 1950’s. His father was the first head of the Cranbrook Academy of Art in Detroit and his mother was a textile artist. He began designing furniture with his father in his teens and continued on to attend Cranbrook. While at Cranbrook, Saarinen met Charles Eames and developed a lifelong friendship (if you don’t know who Charles Eames is, I’ll be doing a blog post about him soon, don’t worry). Eames and Saarinen pushed each other creatively and also collaborated on several projects, and they were soon recognized as leaders of the American Modern furniture movement. Clearly, a whole lot of good came out of that friendship.
Saarinen is known for a sculptural and organic approach to design, and would revise his designs over and over again until he found the most aesthetically pleasing curve. This was revolutionary at the time, and people were excited about the visual drama and character that he introduced. Among his outstanding projects are the Dulles International Airport in Washington, DC, The Gateway Arch in St. Louis, Missouri, the TWA Terminal at Kennedy International Airport, and the CBS headquarters in New York.
Saarinen once said that “The underside of typical chairs and tables makes a confusing, unrestful world. I wanted to clear up the slum of legs.” And so he did. Inspired by a drop of high-viscosity liquid, he created a table in its most simple form. The perfectly curved lines of the tulip table have made it a classic and versatile design. There are so many different styles of chairs that work with the table and it can fit in with almost any style.
We recently used a tulip table in this project:
And here are a few other inspiration photos: