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Tulip table: Eero Saarinen’s famous dining table models

Tulip table is a mid century modern masterpiece by Eero Saarinen, a highly influential Finnish-American designer and architect, best known for the retro-futuristic style of his designs.

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As a creator behind some of the most unconventional and recognizable mid century modern designs, Eero Saarinen certainly earned his place among the biggest names of modernist design and architecture. Best known for his Tulip collection designed between 1955 and 1956 for Knoll furniture manufacturer, he has been credited by Florence Knoll herself as a creator of the quintessential modern dining set. This collection that includes Tulip chairs and armchairs as well as the famous Tulip table that we will discuss in more detail here was born out of Saarinen’s unique vision for the future of the aesthetics of the everyday.

The Finnish-American designer argued that the “slum of legs” created by the tables and chairs in every home contributed to the emergence of “ugly, confusing and unrestful world” that is lurking just below the table surface and still within our field of view. His idea of a truly modern home revolved, to a significant extent, about the idea of clearing up this clutter, freeing the space and ensuring a much subtler, balanced and opened world of modern interiors (although the designer didn’t always create in this manner, as evidenced by his classic modern Womb Chair). And while his vision of dining set without legs never truly caught on, it still gave birth to some of the most recognizable mid century designs.

Eero Saarinen Tulip table: An unconventional mid century masterpiece

Eero Saarinen Tulip table easily stands out among the other period tables due to its unique appeal and unconventional aesthetics, both of which are the direct result of the designer’s vision of a home without the “clutter of legs”. In order to achieve this vision, he abandoned conventional dining furniture design and focused on imagining a new form that is based on the idea of a single-piece design with a solid base instead of a number of legs. As such, both Tulip table and chairs that match it feature an almost minimalist style with a modernist space-age twist that mostly comes from their faux one-piece design and the use of acrylic as the primary material.

Tulip table base is certainly the most recognizable feature of this mid century design and the one that it shares with the chairs and armchairs from the same collection. Simple, tapered at the bottom and spreading towards a circular finish at the very bottom, it is at the core of Saarinen Tulip table’s unique minimalist appeal paired with exceptional functionality and a unique ability to open up the space, allowing the light to flow through the room.

Tulip dining table variants

Easily recognisable and at this point certainly iconic round Tulip table is the original model of this Saarinen’s masterpiece, and also the first one to be designed and to leave the factory line. But, it is not the only one available on the market, nor the only one designed by the original designer and manufactured by Knoll. In fact, Tulip dining tables come in two basic models with the choice between the two largely depending on the number of people you expect to use it at the same time.

Oval Tulip table comes with a slightly different aesthetic expression due to shape of its top surface being elongated in comparison to the original, but at the same time, it is exactly what allows more people to use it at the same time than is the case with the original. As such, oval Tulip dining table is the ideal option for those of you who are planning to host some bigger events at your home, or if you are just in need of more space on your dining table to accommodate your numerous relatives or friends.

Other Tulip table models

But, aside from the two main dining table variants, Saarinen Tulip table has also been manufactured in some other models that are intended to be used outside of the dining room. These models will, most commonly, found their place in stylish living rooms in various décor styles. Small Tulip table is a term that is commonly used for a these variants. As the name implies, they are noticeably smaller in size than the original and are better known as Tulip coffee table and Tulip side table – with the former being somewhat larger in diameter than the latter. Both are a very common sight in modern living rooms where they can perfectly replace more conventional models and add a touch of avant-garde retro-futuristic appeal, without being too imposing.

Tulip tables in different styles

Aside from the variations in size discussed above, Eero Saarinen’s Tulip table is also manufactured with different materials comprising its top surface. Marble top Tulip table can certainly add a touch of classic elegance which will do nothing to diminish the modernist, retro-futuristic and undoubtedly unconventional appeal of this mid century modern masterpiece. On the other side of the spectrum, you can find wood Tulip table that is marked by a playful contrast between acrylic base and modernist design on one hand and rustic appeal of wood on the other.

But, even if you are keen on sticking to the original full-acrylic models, you can still get quite a bit of variety with different color choices. The original white Tulip table is a very popular option, not just because of the fact that it is the first model envisioned by Saarinen, but also due to its exceptional stylistic versatility that allows it to fit in in numerous contemporary décor styles while always bringing a light and airy expression that will work especially well in rooms that don’t have too much space to spare. On the other hand, Black Tulip table is a very popular option for those looking to add an elegant, yet minimalistic touch to their home that can be a perfect addition not just in mid century modern décor, but also in minimalism-infused rooms and spaces.

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