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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Recent News: Eames Chairs
Source: Google News
Kim Gordon's Coming Soon at Schindler's Fitzpatrick-Leland HouseArchitectural Record, April 16th
Mulholland Series (Mermaid Wreath) mimicks the color of the Eames chair in the kitchen. Mulholland Series (Neptune Wreath) hangs inside the upstairs bathroom and brings out the mint green of the tiles and bathtub. While some works are at home on the ...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. Herman Miller discontinued the popular shell chair during the 1980s due to ...Read more
Bora Hong Pulls the Eames Chair Into Her Exploration of Body Modification in ...Core77.com (blog), April 15th
While there are many designs out there that look to replicate the iconic style of the Eames Chair, I'd bet that there aren't many doing it quite like Bora Hong. Her work always has some sort of cultural connection, and her recent design series...Read more
Mad Men draws to a close as viewers brace for final seasonThe Australian, April 13th
POUR a large Old Fashioned and pull up an Eames chair: after countless cocktails, numerous infidelities and a litany of sexist jokes, hit US television drama Mad Men is finally drawing to a close. The mid-century morality tale, admired almost as much...Read more
Center for Arts to Screen 'Eames: the Architect and the Painter'Ketchum Keystone -- An e-newspaper for the greater Ketchum Idaho community, April 9th
“This film is an opportunity to see Charles and Ray Eames far beyond their iconic Eames Chair,” states Kristine Bretall, The Center's director of Performing Arts, in a recent news release from The Center. “While they obviously excelled as designers, it...Read more
Rove Concepts Eames Chair Announced as Flagship Behind Brand's High ...PR Web (press release), March 31st
“Eames Chair has an awesome look and feel to it,” Vincenza Cuzick reviews, “It fits comfortably and has real leather. I am in awe of the quality of this chair. The quality is simply amazing and it is priced very reasonably for what you get. I couldn't...Read more
Film Screening for Eames: The Architect and the PainterTwin Falls Times-News, March 28th
“This film is an opportunity to see Charles and Ray Eames far beyond their iconic Eames Chair,” said Kristine Bretall, the Center's director of performing arts. “While they obviously excelled as designers, it was their approach to design—and the...Read more
Architects rekindle passion for plywood, 70 years after Eames chairSouth China Morning Post, March 18th
Charles Eames caused quite a stir when he first used plywood to make a chair. Until then, furniture had been heavy, solid and complex. He thought it should be lighter, simpler and more flexible. Eames' wife and design partner, Ray, who he married in...Read more