The Tulip Chair, introduced in 1956, was the result of Eero Saarinen’s aspiration to design a piece of furniture constructed of plastic and with just one leg. Tulip, the first one-legged chair, was part of a range of complementary tables and chairs called the Pedestal Group that was manufactured by Knoll.
In the 1950s, American furniture manufacturers, including Knoll and Herman Miller, were offering consumers well-designed inexpensive furnishings made from materials like fiberglass and plastics that were developed during wartime.
Ultimately the highly sculptural leg of Tulip proved too challenging despite the new materials, so it was a combination of molded fiberglass and a cast aluminum base – all coated with a plastic to maintain the organic appeal and the look of one solid piece.
The curvy and appealing Tulip Chair is often seen in movies and on television shows, including “Star Trek,” from 1966-1969.
Eero Saarinen (1910-1961) was born in Kirkkonummi, Finland, the son of famous architect Eliel Saarinen and textile artist Loja Saarinen.
The family immigrated to the United States in 1923. Saarinen studied sculpture in Paris and architecture at Yale University. While attending Cranbrook Academy of Art in Michigan he met Florence Knoll and Charles Eames and soon joined the Knoll Company, creating many eye-catching furniture designs, including the Womb chair. In 1950 he also took on his father’s architectural firm, Saarinen and Associates, after his father died.
Tulip Chair | c.1956
Original: Knoll | USA
Current: Knoll | USA
Dimensions: 26″W x 23″D x 32″H
Material: aluminum and fiberglass frame, upholstered cushion