Eliel Saarinen
(1873-1950)

The finnish born Eliel Saarinen (1873-1950) studied architecture and painting in Helsinki and received his architect's diploma in 1897. Together with to friends of student's days, Gesellius and Lindgren, he established an architect's office already in 1896. The three soon gained recognition in Finland and abroad with works as the Finnish Pavillion at The World Fair 1900 in Paris, Hvitträsk House near Helsinki, where they had their office and private houses, the Finnish National Museum in Helsinki and the Railway Stations of Helsinki and Viipuri. Saarinen took also Part in the international city planning competitions for Canberra, Budapest and Tallinn.

According to the philosophy of architecture at the beginning century Saarinen designed also the furniture for his projects. Early examples are Hannes Chair (1908) and White Chair (1910) for his Hvitträsk winter-garden. Although formally similarities to works of Baillie-Scott and Charles Rennie Mackintosh the Saarinen designs carry their own finnish character in line with Hvitträsk's total design concept.

After success in the competition for the Chicago Tribune Tower (1922) Saarinen moved to the United States (1923). Besides other major objects he developed the concept and designed the complete area of the Cranbrook Academy and School near Detroit. Here he lived until his dead in 1950. For the dinig room of the academy's president (which in fact was himself!) he designed the famous Side Chair, one of his masterpieces, and for his wife's studio the Blue Chair (both 1929).

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