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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Evan Spiegel Reveals Plan to Turn Snapchat Into a Real BusinessBloomberg, May 26th
Evan Spiegel begins a conversation in the offices of his startup, Snapchat, by propping a sneakered foot onto an Eames chair, leaning back, and acknowledging how infrequently he speaks to the press. “I literally have not done this in so long,” he says...Read more
Where Creativity Lives: Take A Look Inside The Homes Of Top Creatives From ...Co.Create, May 26th
What are a few of your favorite things (art, furniture, etc.) or spaces, and why? My favorite space in the apartment is definitely in the living room in my Eames Chair, especially sitting in the sun in the afternoon when the sun is coming in, relaxing...Read more
How Director Brad Bird Brought Back Our Bright Future For "Tomorrowland"Co.Create, May 22nd
When I go to New York and see the Metropolitan Museum of Art's permanent collection, it's like a a rejuvenator of your soul, whether it's the Eames chair or anything designed by the Bauhaus guys like Walter Gropius and Le Corbusier. It was really fun...Read more
5 Insane Things From Martha Stewart Weddings Magazine, Spring 2015Jezebel, May 21st
If the wedding planning galaxy is a weirdo cosmic circus into which no woman is adequately prepared to be flung until it's far too late, Martha Stewart Weddings magazine is that galaxy's big fat Jupiter: Dazzling and marbled with soft, undulating...Read more
Be You: Oil exec finds inspiration in his motherThe Daily Advertiser, May 13th
Where is your favorite place to be alone? In my Eames chair with a glass of red wine. What living figure most inspires you? Simply, my mother. MORE : Be You: Happiness is being surrounded by those you love. What was the best advice you were ever given?...Read more
Opinionator | I Was Raised by PsychotherapistsNew York Times (blog), May 2nd
Often, the black leather Eames chair where I sit — she sits in an identical one, which must mean something — is still warm. Sometimes I wonder what sort of twisted reversal I am enacting. Freud wrote about transference that the patient “is not...Read more
How Charles and Ray Eames' “Shell Chair” is Constructed in 12 GIFSArchDaily, April 3rd
“The role of the architect, or the designer, is that of a very good, thoughtful host, all of whose energy goes into trying to anticipate the needs of his guests – those who enter the building and use the objects in it.” Charles Eames. Herman Miller is...Read more
The Eames' Iconic Molded Plastic Chair, Sawed in Half and Turned Into a LoveseatCurbed 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