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”)

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]



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]



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]

Other Great Reference Sites

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Recent News: Eames Chairs

Source: Google News

'Chairs' art exhibit opens Aug. 7 in Sebastopol
Santa Rosa Press Democrat, July 28th

The center will present sculptor and storyteller Llisa Demetrios, speaking at 6:20 p.m. Aug, 27 on the lives and careers of of her grandparents Charles and Ray Eames, leaders in mid-20th-century modern design and creators of the famous “Eames Chair”...Read more

Aaron Kai :: Catching Waves at the Artist's First Pop-Up Exhibition in L.A.
The Hundreds, July 26th

The exhibition includes more than 15 colorful new works—such as an undulating floral design that Kai painted on an Eames chair—as well as original prints and exclusive merchandise. “I'm really hyped off this pop up,” Aaron explains in the following ...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

Cultivating Home Amidst a Large, Lush West Village Garden
Curbed NY, July 20th

Tishgart says she has a penchant for midcentury stuff—as do many these days—and that shows up in the molded plastic Eames chair she found through Instagram and the light-burst lamp from Restoration Hardware that stands in the corner. Tishgart also ...Read more

That Stealthy Spider-Man Reference and Every Other 'Ant-Man' Easter Egg We ...
Yahoo News, July 17th

By now you know the drill: A Marvel movie comes out and, to serve the fan-folk, the filmmakers cram in all sorts of comic-book references, callbacks to previous films, and clues to upcoming events in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. With Ant-Man going...Read more

Great comedy, great design: Michael Shank on 'Frasier' impact
LancasterOnline, July 16th

Even with the "apartment's" open floor plan, Shank says, the view was broken up visually: A few steps up to an elevated platform that fronted an expansive balcony view (and held Frasier's Eames chair, a sleek midcentury design that was a marked...Read more

Sunday Homes: Cliff House Beauty
Corpus Christi Caller-Times, July 13th

My prized possession is (and why): My Eames chair because of its iconic modern design. My home can never have too many... gatherings for family and friends. Copyright 2015 Journal Media Group. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, ...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