Saarinen first received critical recognition, while still working for his father, for a chair designed together with Charles Eames for the “Organic Design in Home Furnishings” competition in 1940, for which they received first prize. The “Tulip Chair”.
During his long association with Knoll he designed many important pieces of furniture including the “Grasshopper” lounge chair and ottoman (1946), the “Womb” chair and ottoman (1948), the “Womb” settee (1950), side and arm chairs (1948–1950), and his most famous “Tulip” or “Pedestal” group (1956), which featured side and arm chairs, dining, coffee and side tables, as well as a stool. All of these designs were highly successful except for the “Grasshopper” lounge chair, which, although in production through 1965, was not a big success.
In the 1950s Saarinen designed a series of pedestal furniture for Knoll, hoping to create a clean visual style that eradicated what he called the “slum of legs” that he thought sullied many chairs. The pieces, which included the “Tulip” chair and side table, were actually made from both fiberglass and aluminum, but he painted the entire base white in order to make it look as though it had been made from a single material.