Tulip chair

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Tulip chair
Tulip med.jpg
Colors: White frame. Cushion red (cushion variable).
Designer Eero Saarinen
Date 1956
Country United States
Materials Aluminium base, Fiberglass frame. Leather or fabric cushions.
Style / tradition Modernist
Height 80 cm (31 in)
Width 50 cm (20 in)
Depth 56 cm (22 in)

The Tulip chair was designed by Eero Saarinen in 1955 and 1956[1] for the Knoll company of New York City.[2] It was designed primarily as a chair to match the complementary dining table. The chair has the smooth lines of modernism and was experimental with materials for its time. The chair is considered a classic of industrial design.

The chair is often considered "space age" for its futuristic use of curves and artificial materials.


Eero Saarinen had hoped to produce the chair as a one piece unit made entirely of fiberglass, but this material was not able to support the base, and prototypes were prone to breakage. As a result, the base of the tulip chair is of cast aluminum with a rilsan-coated finish to match the upper shell, giving the appearance of a single unit. The upper shell is molded fiberglass, with a reinforced, plastic bonded finish. The upholstered foam cushion is removable with Velcro fastening.[2]


  • Museum of Modern Art Award, 1969[2]
  • Federal Award for Industrial Design, 1969[2]
  • Design Center Stuttgart Award, 1962[2]

Star Trek[edit]

In the late 1960s the Tulip chair was used on the TV show Star Trek where they appeared on the bridge set of the U.S.S. Enterprise and throughout the rest of the ship. The bridge chairs were slightly modified Tulip chairs that featured plastic appliqués attached to their back panels. After the show was canceled most of the set furnishing were discarded into trash dumpsters. An original bridge Tulip chair was offered during the Profiles in History Hollywood Auction #17, selling for $18,000.

Project Cybersyn[edit]

Two years after Star Trek was broadcast in the United Kingdom, a modified form of the Tulip Chair was used in the design of Project Cybersyn[3]

See also[edit]