A Brief History of the Saarinen Table

The Eero Saarinen Table is one of the most iconic modern classic tables still in mass production today.  Along with the Noguchi Coffee Table and Mies van der Rohe’s Barcelona Table, the Saarinen table continue to be popular with residential and commercial designers.

The Saarinen Table was introduced to the world in New York in 1957.  In Eero Saarinen’s initial design, he worked with plastics to form the base and a variety of materials to form the top.  The plastics available at the proved not to be strong enough to support Saarinen table stone tops and so Saarinen turned to cast aluminum.  Cast aluminum would be strong enough and could be easily be finished in black or white.

In Saarinen’s initial introduction various marbles were used along with laminates.  The Saarinen table base was finished in black or white, but it was always in a matte finish.  Today’s Saarinen tables use both a matte and glossy finish.

During Saarinen’s lifetime, he continually experimented with the Pedestal Series and the Saarinen table.  Various tops and sizes were developed.  One example of his variations includes the Vassar College Table series.  The base of this Saarinen table resembles that of the Pedestal series.  For the top, though, Saarinen used glass.  It was a challenge for him to mount glass to the aluminum base as the traditional nuts embedded in the top could not be used.  Instead Saarinen chose to cut a round hole in the glass table and use a plate at the top of the Saarinen table base for the center.  This way the top could be epoxied into place leaving any mounting hardware out of the equation.

Over time the Saarinen table has developed in a way that would likely have pleased this modern classic master.  New sizes have been developed to meet the needs of various interiors.  Many different top materials have also been used over the past 60 years appealing to the demands of the marketplace.  Though white Carrara and black Marquina marbles have been popular top finishes for the Saarinen table, various other marbles, travertines and granites have also been used to create a table.  Laminate continues to be a widely popular top material, especially for applications that require a more rugged finish.

As the tops and sizes of the Saarinen tables have been developed to meet the demands of the marketplace, so too have the bases.  The most recent development was the use of the “platinum” anniversary base to mark the 50th anniversary of the introduction of the Saarinen table. Several Italian reproduction houses have gone even farther and offer a wide range of colors based upon the European RAL color system.  This allows for nearly 300 different colors to be used on Saarinen’s timeless table.