The Womb Chair: A Work of Two Minds?

 As many lovers of design may know, the Womb Chair is a creation of Eero Saarinen, the legendary Architect creator of fascinating works like the Gateway Arch of St Louis. In furniture, Eero’s other designing icons beside the Womb Chair & Ottoman, including the Tulip Dining Table, Tulip Dining Chair, and the Executive Chair, are still as sought-after today as they were in the 1950s.  His legacy lives now in countless lobbies, living rooms, offices, bedrooms, just like Eero saw it raised during its 1948 boom.

But when it comes to the Womb Chair, there is a definitive second mind in the works that made it happen: Is Florence Knoll, soul and mind of Knoll Furniture and a strong force of Mid Century Modern style.

The Womb Chair was inspired completely by Florence Knoll, who repeatedly said she was tired of regular lounge designs, Mrs. Knoll asked then  Eero to build a chair meant for resting:

“I told Eero I was sick and tired of the one-dimensional lounges…long and narrow…” she said, “I want one where I can sit in sideways or any other way I want to sit in it.”

The brief, was certainly a little unconventional for the time: “I want a chair that is like a basket full of pillows, something I can curl up in.”

Saarinen issued his current new challenge and that was the genesis of the Womb Chair

Early years

World acclaimed Eero Saarinen was born in the Republic of Finland within the year 1910. Saarinen is acknowledged for his innovations, style and for the controversies that enclosed his work. This architecture icon pushed the boundaries of design and created new styles in each project he worked on.

It all started when Eero’s family moved to the USA when he was thirteen years old. Encouraged by his father Eliel Saarinen, who was a prominent figure in the American (and European) art circles of the time, and his mother Loja Gesellius, a very famous sculptor, Eero started working at a very young age.

Later on, after graduating from Yale, he started his long-road career by working on several remarkable projects such as the design of architectural icons like St Louis Gateway Arch in Missouri, CBS building in New York, and the TWA flight center in John F. Kennedy international airport.

Yet, it wasn’t until he decided to follow the footsteps of his father by joining the Cranbrook Academy of Arts in Michigan, that he was going to start crafting furniture innovations. Indeed, while studying in the Academy, he became friends with different mid-century modern designers and nowadays figures, including Harry Bertoia, the Eames couple, and Florence Knoll.

The Design of the Womb Chair

Known for his futuristic style, one of the first decisions Eero made for this seat was that it shouldn’t have to rely on excessive padding to be comfy. Instead, he devised a curved inner frame that would mold to the contours of the human body, providing natural comfort.

Once he was proud of the prototype, Eero required to source materials for his new design. However, since those he’d chosen weren’t immediately on the market, it came out to be a troublesome task. Eventually, he half-tracked down a boat builder in New Jersey, who knew about working with fiberglass and persuaded him to help. Then, in 1948 the iconic comfortable seat was born. Originally named No. 70, it presently became referred to as the womb attributable to its snug, organic look.

Why Womb?

As Saarinen explained, he designed on the theory that a great number of people have never really felt comfortable since they left the womb. The final design included a comfortable ottoman that followed the same fiberglass construction vision.

The Womb Chair is the perfect example of collaborative work, team effort and passion for design.

For inspo, info and great offers in furniture, don’t miss the opportunity in Barcelona Design, the alternative for Mid Century Modern style furniture, with masterpieces like the Barcelona Sofa or the Hans Wegner Shell Chair.