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

Kentucky Online Arts Resource

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

Classic Modern

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]



Clubs & Associations

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Recent News: Eames Chairs

Source: Google News

Sprucing up your home, your way
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, July 25th

Author Amanda Brown of Spruce Upholstery in Austin, Texas, shares her tricks of the trade in her new book "Spruce: A Step-by-Step Guide to Upholstery and Design" published by Storey Publishing. 20140625hoSpruceVVmag A before shot of the Paddle Arm ...Read more

Keeping Cool in Cocktail Cuffs
Esquire (blog), July 24th

Let me be the first to predict a revival of the cocktail cuff, a practical and stylish way to finish the sleeve on a dress shirt. The cocktail cuff is distinguished by its combination of a button closure and graceful cutaway foldback, retaining the...Read more

Rookwood in business but older pottery most valuable
HeraldNet, July 24th

This Rookwood tile featuring a dark blue rook on a branch was used for advertising by the famous Rookwood Pottery of Cincinnati about 1915. One sold in 2012 at a Humler and Nolan auction in Cincinnati for $5,250. advertisement | your ad here. By Terry ...Read more

Children shine in Barrowford talent show
Lancashire Telegraph, July 20th

The five judges, including vocal coach Susan Eames, chair of governors Doug Metcalfe and dance teacher Lianne Tattersall, then whittled it down to three finalists, and then a winning act. Street dance troupe Tiny Tempers were crowned the winners...Read more

'Modernist Pittsburgh' shows educator Rosenberg's impact
Tribune-Review, July 19th

Thus, visitors will see the very same Eames chair and ottoman and Aalto stacking stools as seen in the photograph. Even the painting in the picture, “Horizon No. 2,” 1926, by Rosenberg, is in the exhibit. But, here, it hangs above a slatted ash bench...Read more

What Charles And Ray Eames Might Have Done With Modern Materials
Co.Design, July 18th

Matthew Strong recreates an Eames sofa using carbon fiber. What else might the legendary designers have done with today's materials? The Eames fiberglass shell chair has been made in the same way for almost 60 years. A mold covered in glue is dipped ...Read more

The ultimate bachelor pad
Independent Online, July 8th

Inside, he has played up the apartment's gritty urban finishes with industrial-inspired furniture, which he has offset with high-end statement pieces, like an Eames chair and OKHA lamp, and contemporary artwork. “A friend of mine did a series of...Read more

Modern Design Works Include '67 Evans at Clarke.
ArtfixDaily (blog), July 8th

Clarke Auction's July 14th sale will include several midcentury design masterworks by Paul Evans, Poul Kjaerholm, Ib Kofod- Larsen, Florence Knoll, Ray & Charles Eames, and more. The featured lot in the sale is a magnificent and large wall mounted ...Read more