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Object Timeline

1948

  • Work on this object began.

1979

  • We acquired this object.

2001

2014

2015

2017

  • You found it!

Womb Chair And Ottoman, 1948

This is a chair and ottoman. It was designed by Eero Saarinen and manufactured by Knoll Group. It is dated 1948 and we acquired it in 1979. Its medium is polyester, foam, tubular steel. It is a part of the Product Design and Decorative Arts department.

Florence Knoll, whose company manufactured the Womb chair, has said that in 1946 she told architect and designer Eero Saarinen that existing lounge chairs were boring and uncomfortable, explaining, “I want a chair I can sit in sideways or any other way I want to sit in it.” Saarinen’s Womb chair allows just that—sitting up, curling up, or with a matching ottoman, stretching out. The chair’s form is based on a truncated, warped cone: it is a cone cut at its point and folded inward at its sides, intended to encircle the sitter while creating armrests and a sculptural outline. The design was made possible thanks to a new wartime material, reinforced fiberglass and resin, developed to create strong, light, single-shell hulls for Navy boats. In constructing the prototype, Saarinen and Knoll worked with a commercial shipbuilder who produced the chair’s first fiberglass shell designs. The Womb chair, or Model 70, and its side chair companion, Model 72, and settee were the first plastic chairs to be mass-produced, propelling Knoll Associates to a status as a leading modern furnishing manufacturer. The Womb chair then took on a life as a piece of quintessential American modernism, appearing in a Coca-Cola campaign and a Norman Rockwell Saturday Evening Post cover.

Our curators have highlighted 3 objects that are related to this one.

  • Chair (USA), ca. 1948
  • slumped plate glass, metal, textile.
  • Museum purchase through gift of George R. Kravis II and from General....
  • 2013-1-1

Its dimensions are

H x W x D (ottoman): 44.5 x 65 x 48 cm (17 1/2 x 25 9/16 x 18 7/8 in.) H x W x D (chair): 90 x 102 x 83.5 cm (35 7/16 x 40 3/16 x 32 7/8 in.)

Cite this object as

Womb Chair And Ottoman, 1948; Designed by Eero Saarinen (American, b. Finland, 1910 - 1961); polyester, foam, tubular steel; H x W x D (ottoman): 44.5 x 65 x 48 cm (17 1/2 x 25 9/16 x 18 7/8 in.) H x W x D (chair): 90 x 102 x 83.5 cm (35 7/16 x 40 3/16 x 32 7/8 in.); 1979-80-1-a/e

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<ref name=CH>{{cite web |url=https://collection.cooperhewitt.org/objects/18498615/ |title=Womb Chair And Ottoman, 1948 |author=Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum |accessdate=22 November 2017 |publisher=Smithsonian Institution}}</ref>

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