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The Timeless Appeal of the Womb Chair

The Timeless Appeal of the Womb Chair

The womb chair remains one of the most famous representations of   mid-century modernism.  The   neo-futuristic, organic shape of the Womb Chair stands for sublime elegance.  Despite the fact that the chair looks like   a masterpiece of modern art, it is fully functional and very   comfortable.

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The design of the Womb Chair was created by Eero Saarinen, a   legendary Finnish-American architect and industrial designer, and Florence   Knoll, an American architect and furniture designer who studied under the   supervision of the legendary Mies van der Rohe.  The history of their collaboration on the   chair goes back to the early 1940s, when Saarinen received a briefing from   Knoll that said, “I want a chair that is like a basket full of cushions to   roll up and a book read.”

Needless to say, he rose to the challenge.  However, Saarinen, always fascinated by   materials and shapes, strove to achieve the comfort of sitting through the   shape of the chair, rather than the depth of its upholstery.  The final draft came into the spotlight in   1946.  Well received by critics and the   general public, the Womb Chair was an instant hit.  It is still commercially available and has   been made under the Knoll brand since 1948.


“I designed the Womb Chair because it seemed like a large and very   comfortable chair had to take the place of the old overcrowded chair.  Today we need to relax more than ever.  “This quote from Eero Saarinen in 1948   fully takes into account the fact that the Womb Chair was designed to provide   maximum comfort to its users.  The   shape of the chair is adapted to the curvature of the human body.  Before Saarinen achieved the ideal shape   that would not prevent the user from assuming a variety of positions, he had   worked on a number of different prototypes and scale models.  He developed the one-piece shell that   curves around the person sitting in it and gives the chair its famous cozy,   intimate feeling and a feeling of security – hence the name “The Womb   Chair”.  The refined shape of the   bowl required the use of new materials and advanced manufacturing processes,   which were still in their infancy in the 1940s.  Saarinen’s material of choice was the   composite of fiberglass and resin, which could be brought into the desired   shape.  After a long and careful   search, Eero and Florence found a New Jersey boat builder who was   experimenting with the fiberglass and resin composite.  They managed to convince him to take part   in the manufacture of the Womb Chair.    Florence Knoll later recalled: “The boat builder was very skeptical at   first.  We just asked him.  I think we were so young and so excited   that he finally gave in and started working with us.  We had a lot of problems and failures until   they finally got a chair that would work.    “

The high level of comfort is due to the high-density foam, which   is then covered with the KnollTextiles fabric upholstery, which is available   in three different versions: Classic Bouclé (52% wool, 48% nylon), Cato (86%   wool, 14% rayon) and Sonett (100% polyester).    Although “a basket full of cushions” was mentioned in the original   review, the actual chair only has two cushions on the seat shell and the   backrest.  The bowl is attached to the   four-legged base, which consists of bent steel rods and is fitted with   stainless steel and nylon glides at the ends.    The base is provided with the chrome coating.  In order to achieve the absolute heights of   comfort and relaxation, customers can combine the womb chair with the   matching ottoman.  The ottoman is made   using the same materials and processes and is a perfect addition to the   chair.

In summary, it can be said that the iconic design by Saarinen and   Knoll not only meets the physiological needs, but also appeals to the most   sublime taste of every esthete.  Its   innovative, futuristic design, combined with the impeccable quality of   workmanship, has given the chair a very special place in the history of   interior design.