The Womb armchair by Eero Saarinen: An organic indoor sculpture.
It is one of the most outstanding pieces in the history of 20th-century design for its creativity, comfort, and innovation. Learn about its history.
Finnish-born American architect Eero Saarinen is one of the leading designers of the 20th century. His father was also an architect, Eliel Saarinen, and worked as a professor at Cranbrook Academy of Art, where Eero took furniture design and sculpture classes. There, he formed a good relationship with Charles and Ray Eames and Florence Schust (later known as Florence Knoll), with whom he would go on to develop a very successful professional relationship that would last for many years. Eero also studied sculpture at the Académie de la Grande Chaumière in Paris and, later, architecture at Yale University. He devoted himself to the design of both furniture and buildings. Among his most famous works are the iconic Tulip chair, the TWA terminal at New York's JFK airport, the Grasshopper armchair, and his Womb armchair, designed in 1948. Keep an eye on this because you'll be surprised how incredibly contemporary it still is today.
The Saarinen-Knoll team. Florence Knoll (née Schust) met Saarinen at the Cranbrook Academy of Art, and from then on, they cultivated a long friendship. She later married Hans Knoll, and together, they founded the furniture company Knoll Associates. Florence asked Eero to make designs for the company. In time she would acknowledge that "we begged him to. We were very young and enthusiastic and convinced him to work with us." The dream of a wraparound seat. Florence asked Saarinen to design a piece that would be the epitome of comfort. "I want a chair that is like a basket full of cushions, in which one can curl up and comfortably read a book," he told her. In response to Florence's proposal, Saarinen designed an armchair with a shape totally unlike anything that had been made before, which is still famous today for its comfort. The chair's name, Womb ("womb" in English), alludes to the calm and comfort provided by this maternal environment.
Inspiration. In 1940, Eero Saarinen and Charles Eames together won the 'Organic Design in Home Furnishings' competition sponsored by the Museum of Modern Art in New York with a proposal in which they molded plywood. That was the germ that would inspire the Womb armchair and other later Eames designs. Looking for a carpenter who could make this chair, Saarinen found a boatbuilder named Winter, who worked primarily with fiberglass. This material was much easier to shape than wood, and he soon realized that it was ideal for the Womb chair. Comfort was assured. While molding the shell in fiberglass was more or less straightforward, ensuring that it was fixed to the base without compromising the seat's comfort was less so. However, after a few unsuccessful attempts, they found a way to do it. The foam covering, two loose cushions, and its subtle curves finally turned it into an exceptionally comfortable seat that allows sitting in different positions.
Organic in nature. In this photo, the texture of the carpet, the wooden stools, and the wicker cushions form a beautiful ensemble as the Womb armchair, with its curves and organic shapes inspired by nature, fits perfectly in an environment decorated with natural materials such as these. The combination allows the creation of a space that stands out for its depth and interest while maintaining elegance without being pretentious—beauty from every angle. Whether you look at it from the front or the back, it always offers you an exciting face. Its shape is somewhat reminiscent of the curvature of the back. Because of its attractive aesthetics, it adds personality and charm wherever it is placed. In this living room, for example, the armchair and footrest in robust red stand out amidst the overall neutral color scheme of the room. Endless versions. The Womb chair is available in three different sizes, various materials, and a wide range of colors. The tubular support frame is open in chrome or black finish.
Versatility. Its elegant curves make it a perfect fit in any contemporary room. In this case, a Womb chair was chosen in Sabrina leather and polished chrome legs, which greatly enhance its elegance and sophistication. The aesthetic difference that can result from specific colors or materials is evident in this scene, which would not be the same if an upholstered model or one with other finishes had been chosen.