An iconic vintage original Eero Saarinen, Knoll white 'tulip' dining set with a Calacatta marble top pedestal dining table and 4 matching Saarinen, Knoll vintage tulip chairs with the original seat pads and covers.
This is a classic and iconic combination that has its root in designs pioneered by Knoll since the 1950s and was so popular they are still produced today. The great beauty in Saarinen’s pedestal table and chairs was that he used clean, simple lines that were ground breaking and innovative when they were first introduced, but have stood the test of item. You are therefore as likely to see this table and chairs in a Mid century inspired home just as you would a modern dining room.
This set dates from the 80s (based on the typeface and style of the Knoll logo impression in the base of the table) and is in a totally vintage ‘as found’ condition. This means that it’s exactly as it has aged over the years with no repairs or restorations. As such the marble top has some scratches and wear (but, most importantly, has no chips out of the edge) and all the chairs have little knocks and marks on them; all as you would expect with over 40 years of service. It could, of course, be easily renovated if you have a mind to, but I have left them as is on the basis that many collectors like to find their items in this condition.
I’ve tried to show any marks as best as I can, and whilst when you focus on them (as in close ups) you can see the wear, when you step back and look at the set as a whole they are far less apparent. That said, the scratches in the coating on the marble top are virtually impossible to get to show up in a photo, given the lighting and the fact that the marble has a white tone. Same with the original charcoal seat covers, they have some wear from use but nothing much that shows up in the photos.
If you have researched these sets you’ll have found out that the marble tops were factory finished with a Reslan (transparent polyester) coating to protect the surface, and this is also true of the aluminium bases. The scratches that you therefore often find in the surfaces of Knoll sets are in the coating and generally not in the base material, and as such the coating can usually be easily stripped and the item re-polished. Likewise, the earlier chairs were made with an aluminium base and a fibreglass top, which means again that any marks and chips can be easily filled and repaired - note that the coating on the table and seat bases means that they yellow a bit over time too, as here, but the chairs can be re-sprayed if you prefer a ‘newer’ look.
You’ll see that the table has a Knoll branding logo in the base and a Knoll ‘Made in Italy’ sticker on the marble top but how do you tell an original chair when the pre-90’s ones are rarely marked? Well, there are a number of things to look out for based on the fixings through the seat and swivel base to the cast ‘dimple’ impressions for the placement of the Velcro seat pads; but the most obvious piece of provenance lies in the seat foam. Most people are unaware that the high density foam pads are impressed with the Knoll model number for the chairs (151) in the base, but you have to strip the seat cover back to see it; as shown in the photos. You would pretty much never find a fake, replica chair (and there are many out there) with an original seat pad; so as a quick guide, if the seat foam pad is genuine, even ignoring all the other signifiers, that it’s a good bet that the chair is an original.
The marble on this table is Calacatta and is a marble that has been used in some of the world's most prestigious buildings and monuments, including the Pantheon in Rome. It is highly coveted and its striking veining patterns range from grey to gold, as shown in the photos. It’s actually quite rare to find this marble on a Knoll top not because they don’t look great, as this one obviously does, but because Calacatta is the most expensive of all the whiter marbles Knoll offer. Given that these were, and still are, expensive tables people therefore generally went for the lower cost option to balance the books. Plus there was often a longer lead time on the more exotic marbles too.
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Knoll, Saarinen Calacatta marble top tulip dining table and 4 matching chairs
Marble, aluminium and fabric
Date of the original design
Date of production
Table: H72 x W91 x D91cm
Chairs: H80 x W50 x D50cm
Seat Height: 47cm
Number of pieces included in price
Good vintage condition
Do you have questions or would like to discuss this dining set further? Please contact me via the contact page HERE. I'm always happy to help.