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
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'Pawn Sacrifice' recalls Michigan firm's part in famous chess matchMLive.com, October 6th
The next day, Crooks asked a Herman Miller executive if he could arrange for an Eames chair to be provided for Spassky. Given the go-ahead, he worked with the company's New York showroom to locate an available Eames chair, and the New York Chess ...Read more
Eames Plastic Side Chair: dove la metti, sta (bene)!Grazia.it, October 6th
La sedia in polipropilene dei coniugi Eames, è la più desiderata e la più “replicata”. Scopritela con noi. Ha la forza iconica di un pezzo di culto ideato da due dei più importanti progettisti americani del Novecento e l'appeal di un tormentone di...Read more
How To Get The Look Of A $419 Eames Chair For Under $60Huffington Post, September 29th
Ikea's newest catalog features three chairs in the Leifarne and Svenbertil collection that are reminiscent of the beloved Eames chair; and they're tagged at a fraction of the price. Sure, they don't carry the famous name. And true, they won't fool a...Read more
See midcentury-modern gems on Northwest Dallas home tourDallas Morning News, September 25th
An Eames chair anchors a corner of the family room. Separating the living and family rooms is a rectangular fireplace constructed of natural earth plaster. Clean burning and ventless, the gas unit provides warmth while keeping the spirit of the home's...Read more
Kanye West Offers “SWISH” Album UpdateHipHopDX, September 24th
But I'm sitting there and I'm looking at the 350s and I'm thinking about the Submariner Rolex or thinking about the Eames chair. It's like how do you take this thing to a place where it's just the classic shoe? I feel like the Air Force One or the...Read more
Ikea's New Chairs Knock Off All Of The Mid&Century GreatsCo.Design, September 24th
Eames molded chairs are a timeless classic that's experiencing a full-out renaissance. Find me one respectable startup that doesn't have them surrounding the perimeter of a walnut conference table. But at $300 and up, it's hard to resist the temptation...Read more
Move Over, Eames: Reissued Furniture Classics Are Stealing the SpotlightWall Street Journal, August 20th
IN 1970, I worked as a stationery buyer at Georg Jensen, then a multilevel store on Fifth Avenue filled with china from Royal Copenhagen and other precious things. The company's large wholesale business in Scandinavian furniture—hugely popular at one ...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