Eliel Saarinen knife
This elegant knife was designed by Finnish architect Eliel Saarinen for the exhibition The Architect and the Industrial Arts, held at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in 1929. It was part of a prototype place setting fabricated by International Silver that Saarinen hoped would be put into production after the exhibition ended, but never was. Saarinen came to prominence in America when he won second place in the 1922 competition to build the Tribune Tower in Chicago, and his architectural training is apparent in the overlapping panels on the handle that emulate the soaring proportions and setbacks of skyscrapers. The restraint of the design—the reliance on simple, repeated shapes and sumptuous materials—epitomizes Saarinen’s aesthetic approach. Saarinen also patented the elongated handle, which made the knife more comfortable to use and interwove form with function. This knife will be included in the forthcoming publication: A Modern World: American Design from the Yale University Art Gallery, 1920–1950.
John Stuart Gordon
Benjamin Attmore Hewitt
Assistant Curator of American Decorative Arts
Yale University Art Gallery