Eero Saarinen’s Womb Chair / Model No 70

The other night I wasn’t feeling very well, and all I wanted to do was curl up… but I knew I had an article still to write. So it seemed only fitting to choose Eero Saarinen’s Womb Chair to write about… the best of both, except for one small detail – I wasn’t curled up in a Womb Chair writing!

Eero Saarinen was born in Finland, though he became well known in the US for his streamlined furniture designs that have shaped what we call today, Mid-Century Modern. Saarinen is considered one of the leaders in defining the streamlined look of MCM, and of course is famous for his Womb Chair / Model No 70, just one fabulous Saarinen design among many.

Here is Eero Saarinen sitting in his womb chair.

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I wonder what he’s pondering? If you didn’t know better it would almost look like he was holding a cell phone! But there were no cell phones in 1946, the year the Womb Chair was designed. The chair and matching ottoman weren’t put into production until 1948…

The Womb Chair came to be when Eero, working for Knoll & Associates at the time, was asked by Florence Bassett Knoll to create a chair she could curl up in. She wanted it to be shaped like a basket, large enough for lots of pillows, and one she could sink into to read a book!

Can you believe the Womb Chair started here?

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Did you notice the frame? It’s very similar to the frame of the Butterfly Chair that I wrote about here.

And see how it ended up here?

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Notice how the frame has changed?

This view really gives you a good perspective of the womb-like shape…

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Aren’t the lines gorgeous? And seriously, how about that shape? I think Eero satisfied the basket-like request! Now that’s a chair I could’ve curled up in the other night! Do you think you could curl up in this chair too?

I bet you’re wondering how the Womb Chair got its name. Well, rumour has it that Saarinen’s theory was some people never, ever really felt comfortable and secure after they left the womb thus the Whom Chair for that secure place of comfort!

Update: Months after writing this post I received a comment from designer, Christina Blake Oliver of Oliver Interiors. If you scroll down and read her comment, I think you’ll find the actual story behind how the Womb Chair got its name fascinating!

One of the many fab things about the Womb Chair is the range of colours it was made in.

A chair to go with any scheme!

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Love the retro colours in this space, but especially how the turquoise Womb Chair works with the fireplace, and of course its fellow MCM buddies.

And then there’s bright, loud, cheerful orangey-red… what’s not to love about this colour splash?

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Totally punctuates the shag rug and tulip side table don’t you think?

And speaking of orangey…

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Did you know that orange is big on the horizon for 2012? How can you not crush on orange when it looks like this?

Or this…

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And can be so playful like this?

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All of these orange chairs are reproductions, but when they’re accessorized with throw-backs like this owl cushion, and the integrity of the design is preserved in a setting that fits… well, would a reproduction work for you?

If not, would a patterned vintage be a better fit?

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I would love to see this one in an actual setting. Can you imagine how awesome that would be?

If you want to tone things down a little, the neutrals are gorgeous too.

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This space definitely invites you to curl up with a book for some quiet time, don’t you think?

And this one is offering a place to relax and dream…

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Sinking into this chair and gazing out at this view is its own dream come true!

What does this next space say to you?

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I love all the textures and pops of colour at play. Yet the Womb Chair anchors its presence without being overwhelmed, even as a neutral. To me this is a testament to its amazing design.

You see that here…

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And here too.

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Do you see what I mean about its presence? And can you picture the patterned vintage Womb Chair from earlier sitting in a space like this?

Here it is again so you don’t have to scroll back up.

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See what I mean about awesome?

And then there’s always pretty in pink…

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This one is just as at home in a hint of Hollywood Glam…

As this one is here.

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Such opposites in style, but the Womb Chair fits both.

And you know me by now…

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I can never resist black. But can you blame me when it looks like this?

Oh, I almost forgot the mustard…

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And that would never do. Isn’t this space great? I love the turquoise floors, which of course make the mustard Womb Chair pop!

So there you have it. A little glimpse into the comfort and beauty of Eero Saarinen’s fabulous Womb Chair / Model No 70!

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And here, a little glimpse into Eero at home with his family… do you think he would fit in his Womb Chair too?

Did you know the Womb chair is available in three sizes? And it’s the standard and medium size that have an accompanying ottoman too. Which size do you think the Womb Chair is here?

Thanks for stopping by!

Signature 100x47 b&w

Photograph source linked below each photograph.

5 Replies to “Eero Saarinen’s Womb Chair / Model No 70”

    1. Hi Linda,

      Thank you for stopping by! I actually don’t know for sure, but my guess is they’re sitting in the small or possibly the medium chair. These are the dimensions the chair comes in:

      LARGE Womb Chair: 40″ W x 34″ D x 35 1/2″ H with a seat height of 16″ and arm height of 20 1/2″

      (Large Ottoman is 25 1/2″ W x 20″ D x 16″ H with a seat height of 16″)

      MEDIUM Womb Chair is 35″ W x 31″ D x 31 1/4″ H with a seat height of 15″ and arm height of 18″

      (Medium Ottoman is 21″ W x 17 1/2″ D x 14 1/2″ H with a seat height of 14″)

      SMALL Womb Chair is 31″ W x 28″ D x 27 1/4″ H with a seat height of 14 1/2″ and arm height of 17″
      (Note, no small Ottoman)

  1. So interesting that you are focusing on the Womb chair. Actually, if you want to know how it got it’s name… my mother and father were friend’s of the Saarinen’s and my mother was enormously pregnant with me and they were at the Saarinen’s and my mom was sitting in the chair. The Saarinen’s decided it should then be called “The Womb” Chair. I often wondered where my design talent started, I guess just a few weeks before I was born!

    1. Hi Christina,
      What an honour to have you stop by! Thank you so much for sharing the actual story behind how the Womb chair got its name. Such incredible knowledge to have, and I feel very lucky that you shared it here. What an amazing piece of history for you to be connected to… I think the fun in design is all about the stories behind the design, and this one is a great design story! Thank you again.

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