Thursday, June 9, 2016

Saarinen Marries Chippendale

A friend of mine recently played matchmaker to an unlikely duo--a camelback sofa and a tulip table.
Who would have thought that an 18th century sofa could be so happily married to a mid-century modern table? I wouldn't have thought to pair the two, but I must admit that the chemistry is undeniable. Maybe it is the arch-backed that aligns so well with the gracefully curved pedestal. Whatever the cause, the pair form a happy union.
The companions now sit in the eating area of the kitchen that got a face-lift several years ago. (

As is often the case, pairing traditional with modern furniture refreshes the whole. The new outcome is often referred to as transitional. Whereas traditional design references 18th century French and English styles, transitional design mixes in contemporary forms, especially midcentury modern styles.

In this transitionally-styled kitchen, the sofa style was designed by the London cabinet maker/furniture designer, Thomas Chippendale (1718-1779). The arched back and single cushion seat has been a perennial favorite, but to bring it into the 21st century it needed to be tweaked.

My friend chose to have the sofa reupholstered in an outdoor Sunbrella fabric. The  stripe is more current than a damask, and the washable fabric much more practical for eliminating stains than a silk that might have covered an original Chippendale sofa.

The table my friend chose as the sofa's mate was designed by Eero Saarinen (1910-1961).
wikimedia, Eero Saarinen
Saarinen was both an industrial designer and an architect. His architectural landmarks include: the St. Louis Gateway Arch
The Gateway Arch, St-Louis,
and Dulles International Airport's main terminal. (No wonder he was awarded the American Institute of Architects Gold Medal in 1962.)
wikimedia--Washington Dulles International Airport

You probably recognize Saarinen's furniture shapes that show up in homes and offices today, more than fifty years after he died. 
wikimedia--Eero Saarinen's pedestal armchair designed in 1956
I wonder what the two famous designers would have said about the pleasing progeny their union produced?


  1. Classic with a twist! I love the pairing. It's unexpected yet fabulous. I hope you are enjoying the start of summer. Come visit soon :)

  2. Lovely photo,I enjoyed seeing this,thanks for sharing.
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