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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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]

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

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Recent News: Eames Chairs

Source: Google News

8 Home Office Ideas For Small Spaces
Huffington Post, August 25th

In the study of Anne Hearst and Jay McInerney's Manhattan apartment, a color photograph by Elliott Erwitt overlooks a Jansen desk and an Eames chair by Herman Miller; a Jacques Adnet daybed upholstered in a Loro Piana linen and an Adnet floor lamp ...Read more

Move Over, Eames: Reissued Furniture Classics Are Stealing the Spotlight
Wall Street Journal, August 20th

IN 1970, I worked as a stationery buyer at Georg Jensen, then a multilevel store on Fifth Avenue filled with china from Royal Copenhagen and other precious things. The company's large wholesale business in Scandinavian furniture—hugely popular at one ...Read more

Kraftakt von Möbel
Der Bund, August 16th

Da ist noch die Bescheidenheit in der Form, aber schon die fürstliche Polsterung (die den US-Künstler Mark Wentzel 2006 verleitete, die Wulstigkeit nochmals zu steigern: zum frotzeligen Adipositas Eames Chair). Und es verwundert nicht, dass das Ding in ...Read more

How to design your life for happiness
The Guardian, August 12th

Charles Eames – designer of the iconic Eames chair – said it perfectly: 'Design is a plan for arranging elements in such a way as best to accomplish a particular purpose.' So what's your purpose? Let's stop thinking about our lifestyle and start...Read more

Be Curious: The Leadership Art of Good Questions
Pulse, August 10th

DJ DePree, was the founder of Herman Miller, the furniture company, makers of the Eames chair and the completely awesome Aeron desk chair. He told a story that I was first exposed to in his son, Max DePree's book, Leadership is an Art. There is a video...Read more

davone speakers reference classic charles and ray eames chair
Designboom, July 22nd

the eames lounge chair and ottoman was released in 1956 by designers charles and ray eames, and since then spawned generations of other products made of molded plywood and leather. influenced by the iconic modern style, danish company davone ...Read more

The Eames' Iconic Molded Plastic Chair, Sawed in Half and Turned Into a Loveseat
Curbed National, March 12th

Improving upon an Eames chair is nearly impossible, but last year the North Carolina firm of Clark Nexsen ingeniously turned the DSR side chair into a two-person love seat for a design competition co-sponsored by Herman Miller, manufacturer of Eames ...Read more

Build Your Own Beautiful Flat-Pack Chair
Popular Mechanics (blog), February 4th

Build Your Own Beautiful Flat-Pack Chair. With a borrowed CNC router, we cut all the pieces for this Eames chair from a single sheet of wood. Follow our plans and you'll have a flat-pack chair that comes together without any of those obnoxious IKEA...Read more