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Eero Saarinen sits with Aline Loucheim — in the designer’s iconic “womb chair” — in the mid-1950s. The couple shared a powerful professional and personal bond. 

Eero Saarinen sits with Aline Loucheim — in the designer’s iconic “womb chair” — in the mid-1950s. The couple shared a powerful professional and personal bond. 

Credit: Eero and Aline Saarinen Papers, 1906-1977, Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.

CityLab
Design

The Woman Who Built a Superstar Architect’s Image

The author of When Eero Met His Match speaks on the bond between Eero Saarinen and Aline Loucheim, and its enduring influence on architecture publicity. 

In November 1952, New York Times art critic Aline Louchheim arrived in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan, to interview Eero Saarinen. The Finnish-born furniture designer and architect had recently started his own firm after working on various commissions with his well-known father, Eliel, who died in 1950. The 41-year old Eero wanted to be more known for his buildings than his chairs; his first major solo project, the General Motors Technical Center, was under construction, and he was starting to get work that would generate the fame (like a Times feature) he desired.

A tour of his many buildings at the GM campus in nearby Warren led to an evening in which the unhappily married architect and the divorced reporter snuck into a dark room at the Cranbrook Academy of Art after dinner, and, as Louchheim later recalled, “ma[de] love for the first time — hurriedly but so that we both knew it was only the first time.”