SWOOPING, SENSUOUS curves were a specialty of American architect Eero Saarinen (1910-1961), whose TWA Building at New York's J.F.K. Airport vaguely resembles a bird flapping its wings. Like many a great architect, Saarinen was also interested in designing furniture: "I think of architecture as the total of man's man-made physical surroundings," he wrote. "I believe very strongly that the whole field of design is all one thing."
So it comes as no surprise that the graceful, sculptural pedestal chair (1957)--his most famous piece of furniture--bears a family resemblance to TWA, which dates from about the same time. Saarinen had planned to make the chair entirely out of plastic, but, finding that the base was too weak, made it from cast aluminum painted the same color as the plastic seat--showing the effort he'd go to attain a big, simple form. As he later wrote: "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, that kind of thinking appeared in his architecture, when he provided Dulles Airport, outside Washington, with an enormous overhang because "too many measly marquees rat up a facade.")