The collection
Set of modular shelves, drawers, cabinets and table surfaces in wood.

Modular Furniture

Designed by
Eero Saarinen (1910–1961) and Charles Eames (1907–1978)
Mahogony-faced blockboard, yellow poplar, cherry, and elm secondary woods
Produced by
Red Lion Furniture Company, Red Lion, Pennsylvania
Benches: 33.2 x 91.5 x 45.4 cm (each); Desk: 76.8 x 125.1 x 53.4 cm

The Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, the Liliane and David M. Stewart Collection, D83.111.1–6; D89.183.2

This economical modular furniture won a prize in a home-furnishings competition organized by the Museum of Modern Art in 1940. Based on a module of eighteen inches, seven cabinets in the series were designed to be combined in a variety of ways on a group of four-legged benches. The innovation was in the use of a few interchangeably sized pieces to allow for many unit combinations and serve numerous purposes, hence the name “unit furniture.”

The system was flexible in that no connectors were required to hold the units together—rubber grips held them in place—so they could be easily expanded or rearranged by the user.

The Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, photo: Giles Rivest.