Tallahasee, 2002. My roommate Krista and I had spent the afternoon enjoying herbal refreshments and were craving Wendy’s frosty’s and french fries so we decided to go on an adventure.
We were driving past the apartment building next to ours when I spotted something really big and really orange sitting by the dumpster. I yelled for her to stop the car and reverse. She did, and that’s when I realized I was looking at one of the weirdest, coolest, most retro chairs I had ever laid eyes on: An original Eero Saarinen Womb Chair in orange leather with all its cushions and matching ottoman.
So I did what any normal person would do – I found an abandoned grocery cart, flipped the chair and its ottoman in, and drove it home.
I’ll never forget hauling it up to our second floor apartment and yelling for Grace to come see what I’d found. I spent the rest of the afternoon cleaning it with every type of soap we had in the house and letting it air out on the porch. I don’t think we ever got frosty’s that day.
Now I’ll admit, at the time I had no idea what I’d found. Grace’s boyfriend at the time was studying design and interior architecture. He was the one who pointed out that I found a chair in the dumpster that was designed by the same guy who designed the St. Louis arches.
Brand new, this chair and its ottoman in leather go for as much as $3,500. Restored originals with the ottoman and leather? Try upwards of $7,500.
So I figured out what I had… and then… then I started seeing this chair EVERYWHERE.
The womb chair is in the movie Legally Blond (Elle has a pink one), it’s in the movie Down with Love (there’s two in the main character’s apartment, also pink), it’s in countless commercials and TV shows, and Hugh Hefner took this iconic photo holding his first published Playboy Magazine in one JUST LIKE MINE:
I loved this chair so much that I hauled it everywhere with me. Tallahassee to Orlando, all my apartments and homes in Orlando with roommates and finally with Vince.
For the last seven years, this chair has lived in our parlor/not-formal-living-room. I vowed that I would have it restored – swore high and low that it would be put back to its original glory. Because cool though it is, I believe it dates from late 1950’s/early 1960’s and it’s showing its age.
I wish I could say that the womb has gotten a lot of love since living here… but it honestly hasn’t. Don’t get me wrong – whenever we have a party, people inevitably gravitate toward this chair. It looks like it should be comfortable and when you first sit down, it IS comfortable.
- But for hanging out and socializing? It’s almost too reclined and leaned back to keep whoever’s sitting in it a part of the conversation.
- For sitting around, reading and lounging? It’s too firm.
- For being a part of a room’s total look and feel? It’s so round and low and doesn’t fit well anywhere except a corner.
Basically, I LOVE this chair for the beautiful, fun, funky conversation and architectural piece that it is. I don’t really love it for a piece of furniture in my home.
And that is truly wrong. Because this thing is cool, I rescued it, and since it’s been in high demand since literally 1940, it deserves better.
So… I’m selling it. I listed it on Craigslist and within a few hours I had people reaching out. Within 24 hours I had a guy offering me twice what I was asking and it turns out he’s from Tallahassee and has always wanted an original womb – it feels meant to be.
So on Sunday, he gets one and I says goodbye to my womb.
I guess I can’t really chalk this post up as another contribution to a new beginning for me…. this one is a new beginning for something that’s been with me for almost 13 years.
I’ll miss you, my beautiful orange awkwardly shaped architectural womb but good luck and Godspeed!