Finnish-American architect Eero Saarinen had clear objectives when it came to furniture design: “It must be classic, in the sense of responding to an often recurring need.” One such need emerged in the mid-1950s, while he was designing dining furniture for Knoll. “I wanted to clear up the slum of legs,” he said, speaking of the unsatisfactory undercarriages he observed in the chairs and tables of his day.
Saarinen had addressed the problem before. For the Kingswood School for girls at Michigan’s Cranbrook Schools (his father, Eliel, was president of Cranbrook Academy of Art and head of its architecture program), he devised a table with four legs clustered into a central base. But the streamlined, mass-producible concept he 3 presented to Knoll scrapped the legs altogether. Instead, the Pedestal Collection’s star was a tabletop of wood veneer, marble, or plastic set atop a cast-aluminum swoop.
Soon after its 1957 introduction, the Pedestal table was everywhere, from modern homes across the nation to commercial interiors. A custom version with marble top, terrazzo base, and functioning fountain was devised for Saarinen’s iconic Miller house in Columbus, Indiana. A fleet with polished bronze tops and black enameled aluminum bases was sent to the Four Seasons restaurant in 1959. Recently, they were sprinkled throughout Saarinen’s 1962 TWA Terminal, reborn as part of the TWA Hotel at New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport.
Copies emerged, too, but Knoll continues to produce the originals in varying sizes and finishes (from $2,221) for designers such as the AD100’s Tom Scheerer. “Anyone who has been stuck sitting at one of the legs of a circular table can appreciate the functionality of the pedestal base,” attests Shelley Selim, a curator at the Indianapolis Museum of Art and Miller House and Garden. “Plus, the legion of knockoffs always looks so clumsy in comparison.” dwr.com
Article originally posted by Architectural Digest