The Museum of Modern Art Archives, New York

Organic Design in Home Furnishings

September 24–November 9, 1941 The Museum of Modern Art

In 1940, MoMA sponsored a contest challenging designers to submit furniture, lamps, and textiles of “Organic Design,” which curator Elliot Noyes described as exemplifying “harmonious organization of the parts within the whole, according to structure, material, and purpose.” Winners would not only have their work exhibited in the 1941 exhibition Organic Design in Home Furnishings, but were also awarded contracts for manufacture and distribution with major department stores, with the first day of sales timed to coincide with the exhibition’s opening. This exhibition introduced the world to Eero Saarinen and Charles Eames, who worked together as a team and won in both the chair design (with the iconic Organic Chair) and living room categories.

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