Organic Design Competition

The MoMA's groundbreaking exhibition


In 1940, the Museum of Modern Art in New York inaugurated the groundbreaking Organic Design competition to “discover good designers and engage them in the task of creating a better environment for today’s living.” The museum collaborated with several manufacturers and department stores to produce and distribute the winning designs.

Charles Eames and Eero Saarinen submitted collections to two categories – seating for a living room and other furniture for a living room – and won first prize for both for their use of innovative technologies and new manufacturing processes set their works apart. Thee designs dramatically influenced the trajectory of modern furniture design and greatly informed the future careers of both designers.

A design may be called organic when there is a harmonious organization of the parts within the whole, according to structure, material and purpose. Within this definition there can be no vain ornamentation or superfluity, but the part of beauty is none the less great – in ideal choice of material, in visual refinement, and in the rational elegance of things intended for use.

Eliot Noyes

Works by Eero Saarinen and Charles Eames for MoMA's Organic Design Competition

Fishbone pendant

$10,000–15,000

brooch

$15,000–20,000

Wish Bone pendant

$10,000–15,000

bracelet

$5,000–7,000

CHARLES EAMES AND EERO SAARINEN, chair from the Museum of Modern Art Organic Design Competition | wright20.com

103

Charles Eames and Eero Saarinen

chair from the Museum of Modern Art Organic Design Competition
estimate: $15,000–20,000
result: $50,400

CHARLES EAMES AND EERO SAARINEN, storage units for the Organic Design Competition | wright20.com

120

Charles Eames and Eero Saarinen

storage units for the Organic Design Competition
estimate: $10,000–15,000
result: $23,750

CHARLES EAMES AND EERO SAARINEN, Important and rare table for the Organic Design Competition | wright20.com

7

Charles Eames and Eero Saarinen

Important and rare table for the Organic Design Competition
estimate: $10,000–15,000
result: $25,000

CHARLES EAMES AND EERO SAARINEN, high back armchair from the Museum of Modern Art Organic Design Competition | wright20.com

248

Charles Eames and Eero Saarinen

high back armchair from the Museum of Modern Art Organic Design Competition
estimate: $50,000–70,000
result: $48,000

CHARLES EAMES AND EERO SAARINEN, storage unit for the Organic Design Competition | wright20.com

123

Charles Eames and Eero Saarinen

storage unit for the Organic Design Competition
estimate: $5,000–7,000
result: $16,250

CHARLES EAMES AND EERO SAARINEN, Rare pair of chairs from the Organic Design Competition | wright20.com

15

Charles Eames and Eero Saarinen

Rare pair of chairs from the Organic Design Competition
estimate: $30,000–50,000
result: $32,500

CHARLES EAMES AND EERO SAARINEN, storage units for the Organic Design Competition, set of three | wright20.com

316

Charles Eames and Eero Saarinen

storage units for the Organic Design Competition, set of three
estimate: $5,000–7,000
result: $6,875

CHARLES EAMES AND EERO SAARINEN, storage unit from the Organic Design competition | wright20.com

655

Charles Eames and Eero Saarinen

storage unit from the Organic Design competition
estimate: $7,000–9,000
result: $10,625

CHARLES EAMES AND EERO SAARINEN, chair from the Museum of Modern Art Organic Design Competition | wright20.com

103

Charles Eames and Eero Saarinen

chair from the Museum of Modern Art Organic Design Competition
estimate: $15,000–20,000
result: $50,400

CHARLES EAMES AND EERO SAARINEN, storage units for the Organic Design Competition | wright20.com

120

Charles Eames and Eero Saarinen

storage units for the Organic Design Competition
estimate: $10,000–15,000
result: $23,750

CHARLES EAMES AND EERO SAARINEN, Important and rare table for the Organic Design Competition | wright20.com

7

Charles Eames and Eero Saarinen

Important and rare table for the Organic Design Competition
estimate: $10,000–15,000
result: $25,000

CHARLES EAMES AND EERO SAARINEN, high back armchair from the Museum of Modern Art Organic Design Competition | wright20.com

248

Charles Eames and Eero Saarinen

high back armchair from the Museum of Modern Art Organic Design Competition
estimate: $50,000–70,000
result: $48,000

CHARLES EAMES AND EERO SAARINEN, storage unit for the Organic Design Competition | wright20.com

123

Charles Eames and Eero Saarinen

storage unit for the Organic Design Competition
estimate: $5,000–7,000
result: $16,250

CHARLES EAMES AND EERO SAARINEN, Rare pair of chairs from the Organic Design Competition | wright20.com

15

Charles Eames and Eero Saarinen

Rare pair of chairs from the Organic Design Competition
estimate: $30,000–50,000
result: $32,500

CHARLES EAMES AND EERO SAARINEN, storage units for the Organic Design Competition, set of three | wright20.com

316

Charles Eames and Eero Saarinen

storage units for the Organic Design Competition, set of three
estimate: $5,000–7,000
result: $6,875

CHARLES EAMES AND EERO SAARINEN, storage unit from the Organic Design competition | wright20.com

655

Charles Eames and Eero Saarinen

storage unit from the Organic Design competition
estimate: $7,000–9,000
result: $10,625