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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40 Cool Gifts for the Whole Crazy Family (Including Your Pets)Advocate.com, December 18th
This gorgeous dog recliner is like the Eames chair for your pets. Designed by Glenn Ross of Vurv Design, with furniture-grade, sustainably harvested woods, this one is where are beauty and form meet function — if you can afford it. $598, Houzz.com...Read more
12 Design Classics That You'll Love for a LifetimeWired, December 11th
Eames Molded Fiberglass Chair Originally designed in 1950, the Eames chair was first fabricated in colored fiberglass that gave the shell a warm, well-worn look. But fiberglass was found to be harmful to the environment, and in 1989 it was discontinued...Read more
Renovation to recapture Carmel Mission Inn's original spiritSFGate, November 28th
On a recent tour of the model room, Stevenson proudly pointed out retro-hip touches such as an Eames chair, a vintage green leather tuffet (spotted at a thrift store by designer Mary Ann Schicketanz), custom-made Danish modern furniture and a turquoise ...Read more
Seats of honor celebrated at Philadelphia Museum of ArtNewsworks.org, November 21st
They bought the right to manufacture and sell pieces including the Nelson sunburst clock and the legendary Eames chair, by some of the greatest designers in America. Eventually the company started to champion and commission its own roster of designers...Read more
This Concept Sneaker Is an Homage to an Eames ChairGizmodo India, August 22nd
This sleek-looking trainer isn't real (yet), but it ought be. Because while it looks like a piece of footwear from the future, it is in fact a homage to furniture from the past. The brainchild of French designer Ora-Ïto, the shoe pays tribute to...Read more
This 1956 NBC Segment Dramatically Debuts Eames's Iconic Lounge ChairGothamist, August 18th
In 1941, Charles Eames was introduced to the world through an exhibit at MoMA, and by the 1950s he was a household name and his chairs a household fixture. In 1956, Eames (along with his wife Ray) went on NBC's Home show to introduce his latest ...Read more
Build Your Own Beautiful Flat-Pack ChairPopular Mechanics, June 10th
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
Herman Miller brings back classic Eames chair in recyclable fiberglassLos Angeles Times, April 16th
The iconic Eames molded fiberglass shell chair returns to vintage form as Herman Miller unveils a sustainable version of the 1950 chair that is made from recyclable fiberglass. lRelated Home decor stores multiplying at South Coast Collection in O.C...Read more