In the mid-1950s, Finnish-American modernist architect Eero Saarinen became obsessed with cluttered-looking furniture and imagined a table that would eliminate the “slum of legs.” He got rid of table legs, all right, with the pedestal or Tulip table, a simple round top perched and perfectly balanced on a slim sculptural column of molded cast aluminum. The prototype, made in 1956, came into production two years later by the Knoll company, which still makes the table (and matching chairs). The most popular rendition is a white painted laminate top over a white base; the 42-inch round dining table is the classic. Prices start at $2,000, but reproductions can be as low as $200.
The tulip table looks right at home in both contemporary and period rooms. Pair it with tulip chairs or customize your look by using traditional ladder-back chairs, aluminum Navy chairs, curved benches or mismatched wooden chairs all painted the same color. Here's a piece of furniture to confidently buy once and enjoy for a lifetime.