What is a Tulip Table? A Complete Beginner's Guide

What is a Tulip Table?  A Complete Beginner's Guide

What is a Tulip Table?: A Beginner's Guide

What is a Tulip Table?: A Beginner's Guide

Tulip tables are all the rage. But what exactly is a tulip table? Check out this guide to find out.

Keyword(s): tulip table


How can one table become timeless?

When it comes to one of the most iconic table designs in the world, the answer is both simple and complex. Which is why we're diving into the interesting story of the tulip table.

The tulip table was invented in the mid 1950s and continues to be one of the most innovative designs to this day. Wondering how this advanced design came to life? Read on for the complete story of the tulip table.

History of a Timeless Piece

This elegant table is more than just an eye-catching addition to any home decor. It is a design masterpiece that was born out of the mind of an architect who was ahead of his time.

Well-known Finnish-American architect Eero Saarinen was known for a number of architectural marvels you can still see today. One of his most well-known structures is the iconic St. Louis Gateway Arch located in Missouri. 

He also designed the JFK Airport's TWA Flight Deck in New York as well as the Washington Dulles International Airport.

Following in His Father's Footsteps

Saarinen was born in 1910 to Eliel and Louise Saarinen. His father was an architect. After his family immigrated to America when he was thirteen years old, Saarinen's father worked as a professor and dean at the Cranbrook Academy of Art in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan.

Later on, Saarinen began to take courses in sculpture and furniture design at the Academy. While attending classes Saarinen met Charles Eames. Together they collaborated on creating the Organic Chair, which won first place at the Organic Design Home Furnishings competition at the Museum of Modern Art in 1941.

Innovative Designs

Saarinen went on to teach at the Cranbrook Academy of Art just like his father. By the late 1940's he met Hans and Florence Knoll whom he formed a partnership with and went on to create furniture together until he passed away at the early age of 51. The Knoll furniture company continues to sell his original designs.

Some of the unique designs they created were the Womb Chair, a chair that focused on shape for comfort rather than cushioning. He also created The Pedestal Collection around 1955, which included chairs.

These versatile and aesthetically simple chairs are still around today. They are built with a moulded fibreglass seat and an aluminium pedestal base.

They were known as tulip chairs and could be paired with a matching round stool or the tulip table as a complete dining room set. They are still very popular and come in versions that swivel or are stationary and with and without arms.

From this flower-like design came the Saarinen or tulip table. This sturdy design has created a lasting impression on homeowners for years to come. It will forever be a staple piece in the world of mid-century modern design.

The Innovation Behind the Pedestal

When Saarinen set out to create The Pedestal Collection he had more than aesthetics in mind. He was looking to resolve a problem for functionality's sake. His goal was to create chairs and tables that complimented a room and also eliminated the annoyance of cumbersome legs.

Over the course of five years, Saarinen created models to fit in a dollhouse-size room. He was already a skilled sculptor and used these skills to mould clay into his different ideas.

With help from Don Petitt who worked for Knoll's Design Development Group, Saarinen created moulds that would eventually turn into full size moulded fibreglass and aluminium furniture pieces.

Before being put into production, Saarinen personally tested the furniture in his home. The result is the beautifully sleek tulip design we see today, which was named after its elegant stem-like base.

Limitless Versatility 

The great thing about the tulip table is that it fits in just about any room. Because of its simplistic design, you can match this table with any type of style including modern, vintage, or retro decor along with an eclectic collection of chairs. You can mix it in with antiques or keep it futuristic.

You can also match it with some of Saarinen's other designs including a set of his tulip chairs. They offer the same range of versatility and comfort.

It's hard to find a room or decor that this table doesn't go with!

Customisable Designs

The tulip table blends seamlessly with its surroundings. It also comes in a variety of shades and finishes. One popular design is the marble top that adds a new level of sophistication. You can now purchase versions that replicate marble and are more affordable.

There are also versions with wood veneer or plain white laminate finishes as well. Even different metal bases are available to add a new dimension to the table.

The tulip table comes in a number of sizes to fit any home. You can purchase them as side tables, coffee tables, or full-size dining room tables. They also come in both round and oval shapes. 

No Bulky Legs

Plus without bulky legs, you can fit all of your guests comfortably around this table. No one has to end up at the seat with a table leg in the way. This table continues to remain a popular design perhaps for its comfort as well as its timeless look.

Furthermore, there are tulip tables that are made specifically for outdoor use. So you can gain the appeal and functionality of a tulip table on your porch or deck.

This table is also very stable and won't wobble unless of course, the floor is uneven. Which can't be said for many of the four-legged varieties of tables. 

The possibilities are truly endless when it comes to this design.

Want Your Own Tulip Table?

Saarinen's table is still around and doing well in a variety of home designs. He was truly an innovative designer who mastered this common furniture piece in the simplest way.

While an authentic Saarinen table can be very costly, there are many other reproductions that are still quality but more affordable. You can benefit from the same stunning centrepiece to any room, for a fraction of the cost.

Want to check out more tulip table varieties? See how amazingly versatile this table truly is at our site. You can enjoy this classic design in your home for a price that can't be beaten!


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  • Euan Lockwood