Iconic Designs: The Eames Lounge & Ottoman

A chair is a very difficult object. A skyscraper is almost easier. That is why Chippendale is famous ~ Ludwig Mies van der Rohe

If you were a fan of the TV show, Frasier, you’ll recognize the Eames Lounge that was often featured in Frasier Crane’s apartment; and this particular episode is a classic. The Eames Lounge chair is quite possibly, to quote Dr. Crane, “the best engineered chair in the world,” but do you know the story behind this iconic chair that is still being made today?

EamesesThe Designers

The famous husband and wife design duo, Charles and Ray Eames, made significant historical contributions to the development of modern architecture and furniture. They also worked in the fields of industrial and graphic design, fine art, and film. The Eameses pioneered technologies in furniture design, such as molded plywood work, fiberglass furniture, plastic resin chairs, and wire mesh chairs.

Eames Lounge and OttomanThe Design

Charles’s vision was for a chair with “the warm, receptive look of a well-used first baseman’s mitt.” He said he thought of the human body as a baseball, sinking comfortably and correctly into the inviting, soft leather of the mitt. Unlike its purely modern molded plywood predecessors, the lounge chair was first and foremost, comfortable. It also looked comfortable – a look quite different from the more spartan furniture of earlier modernist designers. But it also had the modern “Eames look:” playful, functional, sleek, sophisticated, and beautifully simple.

The Materials

The chair is composed of three curved plywood shells: the headrest, the backrest and the seat. In early production, beginning in 1956 and running through the very early 1990s, the shells were made up of five thin layers of plywood which were covered by a veneer of Brazilian rosewood. Because excessive harvesting of this species since colonial times has led to its extreme endangerment, the use of Brazilian rosewood was discontinued in the early 1990s. Current production uses seven layers of plywood covered by finishing veneers of cherry, walnut, and other non-endangered woods.

The seat cushions eschew standard stapled or nailed upholstery. Instead, the cushions are sewn with a zipper around the outer edge that connects them to a stiff plastic backing. The backing affixes to the plywood shells with a series of hidden clips and rings.

Introduction

While the Eamses aimed to develop furniture that could be mass-produced and affordable, the Eames Lounge was an exception; it was the the first chair that the couple designed for a high-end market. When the chair was dramatically unveiled on the Arlene Francis Home show in an aura of glamour, the Eames Lounge and Ottoman instantly became a status symbol for the well appointed home of the 1950’s.

Production

Since its introduction in 1956, the chair has been in continuous production by Herman Miller in America, and later by Vitra in Europe. Immediately following the chair’s release, other furniture companies began to copy the chair’s design, but only Herman Miler and Vitra produce authentic chairs with the Eames name attached.

The Eames Lounge chair embraces the ideals of comfort, simplicity, and even elegance; it is truly one of the greatest pieces of furniture ever made.

Any time one or more things are consciously put together in a way that they can accomplish something better than they could have accomplished individually, this is an act of design. ~ Charles Eames

 

Let Prestige Marble & Granite play a role in your “act of design,” by helping you select the most beautiful and enduring countertops for your home. Our highly skilled fabricators use the latest in technology to ensure precise cutting, fitting, and installation of your natural stone, for a beautiful look that will stand the test of time. 

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