Design Icon : The Saarinen Tulip Table
The Tulip Table has been in constant production since its design in 1956 and, like all true design classic interior pieces, it has endured the test of time.
Who designed the Tulip Table?
The son of esteemed Finnish architect, Eliel Saarinen, and accomplished artist Loja Saarinen, Eero Saarinen grew up exploring his creativity. His design career began studying at the Cranbrook Academy of Art, where he met and befriended future world-renowned designers, Charles Eames, Ray Kaiser and Florence Knoll (née Schust).
He burst onto the design scene in 1940 when he and Carles Eames entered a MoMA competition. Together the duo designed the now-famous Organic Chair.
Over the coming years, Saarinen went on to become both a celebrated architect and furniture designer, creating a host of furniture pieces that are now considered design icons. His sculptural approach to design and meticulous focus on the perfection of form led him to experiment with new materials and aesthetics and helped pave the way for many design greats.
Why is it the Saarinen Tulip Table considered a design icon?
Brian Lutz, the author of “Knoll - A Modernist Universe” said that design icons all have one thing in common - and that is the originality of the creative idea behind the design. Eero Saarinen’s idea for the Tulip collection was to create a table and chair combination that fixed the problem of the “unrestful world” beneath tables. The Tulip Table and Tulip Chairs, therefore, feature a single pedestal base, offering the user freedom of movement underneath.
"The undercarriage of chairs and tables in a typical interior makes an ugly, confusing, unrestful world. I wanted to clear up the slum of legs. I wanted to make the chair all one thing again” - Eero Saarinen
For us, another key characteristic of an iconic design is its ability to endure - to break through trends and remain relevant. Saarinen’s Tulip table does just that. Decades have passed, and style trends have come and gone, but the Tulip table has remained. Today, you’ll find it in offices, hotels and homes, all with different interior design styles - and in each, the Saarinen looks right at home.
Does the table have another name?
The collection was originally named “Pedestal” due to its singular pedestal leg base but later took on the nickname “Tulip”.
What are Tulip tables made from?
The pedestal base of the Saarinen Tulip Table is made from heavy moulded cast aluminium, finished in a protective black or white Rilsan coating. The bevel-edged tabletop is available in a variety of materials including satin smooth laminate, wood veneer and marble.
Below, you can view how the marble Tulip tables are made, from quarry to completion.
How do I know if a Tulip table is a genuine original?
As with many other iconic furniture designs, the internet is rife with replica versions of the Tulip table. Luckily for fans of the original, these imitation tables are much easier to spot than fake versions of some other well-known designs. The superior quality and build of the original Tulip Table is often enough to differentiate between an authentic version and a replica, but just to be sure, here are a few other telltale signs.
All Knoll Tulip Tables currently in production feature a Knoll logo on the underside of the base. A plate with the KnollStudio logo and the signature of Eero Saarinen is also located on the underside of the tabletop.
Inspect the area on the table where the pedestal base meets the tabletop. The top of a genuine Saarinen table, screws down onto a single-threaded rod on the top of the base. When the tabletop is in place, you should not see any visible screws between the top and the base.
The Price Tag
Authentic Tulip Tables are meticulously crafted by expert craftsmen, from premium quality materials and the price reflects this. They’re built to be used, enjoyed and loves for generations.
The Foolproof Method
The easiest, and safest way to know that a Knoll Tulip Table is a genuine original, is to purchase yours at Utility. As an official Knoll stockist, we’ve been proudly selling their 100% authentic designs for over 15 years.