Charles and Ray Eames, who pioneered modern chair design in the 1940s and '50s, were responsible for some of the most innovative chairs of the 20th century. Their chairs were fabricated from wood, fiberglass, plastic, and metal mesh. Eames chairs have been widely imitated, but originals are highly sought-after by collectors because they are considered breakthroughs in both design and technology.

In 1940, Charles Eames met Ray Kaiser at Cranbrook Academy of Art in Michigan, which was also home to architect and Eames collaborator Eero Saarinen and furniture designer Harry Bertoia. The couple married a year later and moved to Los Angeles to continue their work in molded plywood.

By 1945, the couple had figured out how to create compound curves in molded plywood. One of their first pieces was a birch child’s chair and stool manufactured by the Molded Plywood Division of Evans Products — production was limited to just 5,000 pieces.

Evans also produced about 1,000 LCW chairs (which stands for Lounge Chair Wood) before the Eameses began a long collaboration with the Herman Miller Furniture Company, which produced and distributed a number of chairs for them, including the DCM (Dining Chair Metal), in which two pieces of plywood are secured to a solid-rod chromed frame with rubber shock mounts. In 1951, Herman Miller was selling 2,000 of these chairs a month (examples with wooden legs were less popular, making them more collectible today).

Molded fiberglass chairs in a variety of bright colors — with or without arms, with or without a rocking base — came next. Serious Eames connoisseurs look for chairs from this period, 1950-1953, with a "Miller-Zenith" label on their undersides. The ones with wooden bases (DAW, PAW) are less common and thus more sought-after than the ones with metal legs (DAR, LAX, LAR, RAR). Around the same time, the couple designed chairs made from sturdy wire mesh, with covers available in leather, vinyl, and fabric by designer Alexander Girard.

These were the chairs that the Eameses produced for the mass consumer. By 1956, well-heeled customers could order a Lounge Chair and Ottoman, whose molded rosewood plywood form embraced rich leather upholstery. The chair is still available today from Herman Miller in cherry and walnut.

In 1958, the couple launched a chair collection called the Aluminum Group, which included a desk chair and a lounge chair — the armless models of the latter are most prized today. In 1960, Eames designed several chairs and a trio of stools for the new Time-Life Building in New York. One was an Executive Desk Chair, the other an Intermediate Desk Chair, which was a smaller version of the Executive that did not sell as well, making it the more prized of the two today.


Best of the Web (“Hall of Fame”)

EamesCollector.com

EamesCollector.com

Steven Cabella's personal homage to Charles and Ray Eames. This site is as clean and visually appealing as the Eame… [read review or visit site]

Work of Charles and Ray Eames

Work of Charles and Ray Eames

This Library of Congress microsite is an overview of the postwar modern design work of Charles (1907-78) and Ray (1… [read review or visit site]

Herman Miller Consortium Collection

Herman Miller Consortium Collection

This website showcases several hundred pieces of furniture, held by thirteen museums, that were designed for Herman… [read review or visit site]

Modernism

Modernism

This archived overview produced by the Minneapolis Institute of Arts offers thumbnail sketches of the design moveme… [read review or visit site]

Buffalo Architecture and History

Buffalo Architecture and History

Chuck LaChiusa's wonderful guide to the architecture and history of Buffalo, NY, also happens to host an impressive… [read review or visit site]

The Mid Century Modernist

The Mid Century Modernist

Stephen Coles' really visual blog dedicated to the Modernist era of design from 1940 to 1970 (aka Mid-century Moder… [read review or visit site]

Chipstone

Chipstone

This beautiful site showcases the collection of Stanley and Polly Stone of Fox Point, Wisconsin, consisting of earl… [read review or visit site]

Kentucky Online Arts Resource

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This huge online database from the Speed Art Museum is a rich trove of beautiful photos and reference information o… [read review or visit site]

Classic Modern

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Get a taste of how homes were lit in the 50s, 60s, and 70s with the Danish retro-style lighting designs featured on… [read review or visit site]



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Recent News: Eames Chairs

Source: Google News

New York, New York: Virgin America Touches Down At LaGuardia
Nassau News Live, October 28th

The space features modern furniture selected in collaboration with the Dallas-based design group Corgan – including Cassina Tre Pezzi lounge chairs, an Eames chair and ottoman and Foscaraini “Twiggy” floor lighting. The check-in lounge is also enclosed ...Read more

"House," ArtPrize Top 20 finalist, on display at Frederik Meijer Gardens until ...
The Rapidian, October 22nd

A black plastic molded Eames chair suggests an ordinary living room in a middle class home. A group of potted plants in a corner adds a “homey” touch. Two computer screens display animated 4-dimensional (and therefore nonexistent) geometric figures...Read more

'Terminator's James Cameron & Gale Anne Hurd: Hasta La Vista To “Fear-Based ...
Deadline.com, October 18th

It's been 30 years since James Cameron made his name with a futuristic sci-fi actioner starring ex-bodybuilder Arnold Schwarzenegger, inspired by his own nightmare vision of a murderous mecha-skeleton. Jen on Genre James Cameron Terminator Shot for ...Read more

Virgin America Feels The Love: Airline Celebrates Its Touch Down At Dallas ...
Nassau News Live, October 13th

The space extends the airline's cabin experience into the airport with design elements that include modern furniture pieces selected in collaboration with the Dallas-based design group Corgan – including Cassina Tre Pezzi lounge chairs, an Eames chair...Read more

Jonathan Ive Shares Three Lessons He Learned from Steve Jobs
Vanity Fair, October 9th

“Steve [Jobs] was the most remarkably focused person I ever met in my life,” Apple's senior vice president of design Jonathan Ive told Vanity Fair editor Graydon Carter during the closing event of Vanity Fair's New Establishment Summit in San Francisco...Read more

Barcelona Designs Rekindles the History of Charles and Ray Eames: A ...
DigitalJournal.com, October 6th

It is important to note the history of Charles and Ray Eames and how they came up with such brilliant designs that are considered as iconic today in the modern world of furniture. Toronto, ON -- (ReleaseWire) -- 10/06/2014 -- The designs of Charles and...Read more

In the details: Add a splash of style to your home with these pieces that pop
Las Vegas Weekly, October 1st

So you can't afford an Eames chair. Why not transform the mess of coats by your door with this steel and wood wonder, designed in the 1950s by Charles and Ray Eames and reissued by Herman Miller. It's so cool you may not want to cover it. $200, dwr.com...Read more

Move Over, Ikea? New Hem Furniture Is Stylish And Convenient, If Not Quite ...
Co.Design, September 30th

Affordable for some people--the Hai Lounge Chair is $1,199, cheaper than, say, an Eames chair ($4,500), but still not as cheap as an Ikea chair ($29). The prices are most comparable to those of Blu Dot, the Minneapolis-based chain that produces slick ...Read more