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.
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Opinionator | Just One More QuestionNew York Times (blog), February 2nd
The next day, I returned and sat across from him in the Eames chair reserved for patients who sat upright during sessions. I asked if he was all right. He told me that he had consulted his doctor, who diagnosed a transient ischemic attack — a kind of...Read more
The Chair That Eames BuiltPalm Springs Life, February 1st
In the documentary film Eames: The Architect and the Painter, the then-editor of Dwell magazine, Sam Grawe, says without irony or embarrassment, “There has probably been an Eames chair in every issue we've ever published.” Movies, commercials, print ...Read more
Tracing The Long, Controversial History Of Organic DesignCo.Design, January 26th
In 1941, the Museum of Modern Art in New York put on a show that is now legendary: Organic Design in Home Furnishings. Curated by Elliot Noyes, the museum's first industrial design curator and protégée of Bauhaus director Walter Gropius, the...Read more
Planet EamesMetropolis Magazine, January 25th
A sprawling retrospective of design's favorite duo reveals how conscious they were of the power of their own image. Shumi Bose. Email this page Email Print this page Print Feed. Opened in late October at London's Barbican Art Gallery, The World of...Read more
Discount of Eames chair and moreEvening Standard, January 20th
The furniture and lighting specialists have a wide range of ex-display and stock items from Vitra, Knoll, Fritz Hansen and many more, with discounts of up to 65 per cent. The Eames soft pad EA 217 chair, above, from Vitra, is now £1,499, down from £2,415...Read more
Price of classic style is going upThe Times (subscription), January 18th
The price of furniture design classics such as the Eames chair and the Arco floor lamp is expected to increase as much as tenfold this year following a change in copyright laws. The length of time a design is protected by copyright is being extended...Read more
Mohawk to Celebrate 70th Anniversary of Superfine with Campaign, Series of EventsPrinting Impressions (press release), January 14th
The first Eames chair, designed by husband and wife team Charles and Ray Eames, was produced in 1946, creating a classic for the Herman Miller furniture company. A futuristic, two-piece swimsuit called the bikini debuted in Paris during the summer of ...Read more
How To Get The Look Of A $419 Eames Chair For Under $60Huffington Post, September 29th
Ikea's newest catalog features three chairs in the Leifarne and Svenbertil collection that are reminiscent of the beloved Eames chair; and they're tagged at a fraction of the price. Sure, they don't carry the famous name. And true, they won't fool a...Read more