One of the ways we honor the Forever Modern promise and keep it relevant at Optima is by curating both public and residential spaces in our communities with timeless furniture. As we put the finishing touches on the furniture selections for the lobby and model apartments at Optima Lakeview, it’s a perfect time to take a closer look at the Womb™ Chair.
In 1946, Florence Knoll, the pioneering architect who led the furniture empire Knoll Associates with her husband Hans, reached out to friend and fellow architect Eero Saarinen to design a lounge chair for the company. In numerous interviews following the release of the chair, Knoll explained, “I told Eero I was sick and tired of the one-dimensional lounge chair … long and narrow … I want a chair I can sit in sideways or any other way I want to sit in it.” She envisioned “a chair that was like a basket of pillows … something I could really curl up in.”
Originally named No. 70, the chair quickly took on its more intuitive name as people raved about its countless positions and the deep sense of comfort and tranquility it provides. “There seemed to be a need for a large and really comfortable chair to take the place of the old overstuffed chair,” Saarinen explained. “Today, more than ever before, we need to relax.”
Apart from its novel appearance, the Womb™ chair is also highly innovative from a structural perspective. To achieve a balance between comfort and a modernist silhouette, Saarinen wanted to construct the chair out of a single piece of material. This led him to a groundbreaking new material that had recently been developed to produce minimalistic, yet-durable hulls for Navy vessels during World War II. He then turned to a New Jersey boat builder to use this reinforced-fiberglass-and-resin to produce a prototype of the cropped, folded cone shape he had designed. The final result — a padded and upholstered fiberglass shell that sits on a polished chrome steel frame — combined simplicity of shape with true comfort and flexibility.
Once released, the Womb™ chair quickly became a cultural icon. A 1958 Coca-Cola advertising campaign showed Santa Claus drinking a Coke in a Womb™ chair. The chair also made an appearance in a New Yorker cartoon as well as a Saturday Evening Post cover by American Painter, Norman Rockwell.
Discover the iconic Womb™ Chairs as part of our invitation to “Expect the Extraordinary” when you visit Optima Lakeview. Experience for yourself what it means to lounge in absolute comfort and modernist simplicity, just as Eero Saarinen and Florence Knoll imagined 75 years ago.