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