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]

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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

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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

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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

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Recent News: Eames Chairs

Source: Google News

Video gaming comes of age as world embraces its artistic vision
Financial Times, March 27th

Many people instinctively assume video games have little cultural value compared with visual art and opera. Yet some games are, at the very least, masterpieces of design — and if an Eames chair belongs in a museum, then why not an arcade machine like ...Read more

Style by Joseph Connolly, review: 'a little bit Nineties'
Telegraph.co.uk, March 26th

Terence is a man in his mid-40s who calls Terence Conran his hero: he loves a good piece of design, you see, whether it's a Charles Eames chair or a Luger handgun, so long as it has style. But Terence's wife, Amy, doesn't even know who Eames is...Read more

The Iconic Wire Chair, Harry Bertoia, and the Making of America's Living Room
Curbed SF, March 23rd

His most celebrated furniture design is probably the sculptural diamond chair, which he designed from wire for Knoll in 1952, but Bertoia also played an integral part in the design for the now-classic Eames chair. He spent three years experimenting...Read more

matthew strong weaves carbon fiber eames sofa
Designboom, March 15th

the eames fiberglass shell armchair of the late 1950s went through a number of changes in term of its form and thickness, in order that its supporting strength was increased. however, the final model of the shell was almost 3/4 of an inch thick, making...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

Where Bootleggers Once Dallied, an Island of Awesome Castoffs in the Mission
Curbed SF, March 10th

Clockwise from foreground, left: an Eames chair; a Mies van der Rohe glass coffee table; a table lamp suspended from a rope; a Ted Boerner armchair (behind vase); and Bucky the deer. Now Bucky hangs above their fireplace, unmounted but surrounded by ...Read more

Whitehall realizes it's sitting on valuable Herman Miller chairs
Columbus Dispatch, March 9th

Two gray chairs sold for $360; two orange, for $157.50. Mark Heimrich had never heard of the Eames chair, but now he's selling them. Heimrich, a co-owner of Ship Print eSell in Upper Arlington, has listed, packaged and mailed nearly every Whitehall chair...Read more

This Concept Sneaker Is an Homage to an Eames Chair
Gizmodo India, August 22nd

This sleek-looking trainer isn't real (yet), but it ought be. Because while it looks like a piece of footwear from the future, it is in fact a homage to furniture from the past. The brainchild of French designer Ora-Ïto, the shoe pays tribute to...Read more