Eames Lounge Chair & Ottoman
A piece, an icon, a story. A product is never just what we see – There are purposes that subtend between the design lines. The Eames Lounge chair is much more than a recliner chair that gives a sense of refinement and timelessness placed in a capsule of comfort. It springs from a place where everything was still very little and that with the right ideals has reached where you would never think it would.
Considered the greatest innovators of american industrial design, Ray and Charles Eames proposed to the world a renewed version of hope and modernity of the times, and, with this mission, they made the history of design everything that it is. Read the whole story.
A vision, a life, a love
The story of the Eames Lounge Chair begins in 1940 at an organic design competition at Cranbrook Academy that inspired Charles Eames and Eero Saarinen, both professors of architecture, to embark on an innovative project. Inspired to combine a modernist aesthetic with the industrial flair of mass production, the pair ambitioned to create a chair that could replace older seats and more expensive upholstery, which they won the competition but not the feasibility of producing the same piece.
Ray, an architecture student very much into art and sculpture, met Charles and they both fell in love, deciding that together they would take forward the idea of creating an elegant, luxurious, high-quality design at a price point that the middle class could afford. It needed to be chic, modern, and above all comfortable. The couple’s purpose is that the design would make the user feel as comfortable as if they were a baseball, with a leather glove. The important thing was to create pieces where the focus was on the man.
In 1956, the piece was first introduced to the world at the Arlene Francis Home Show, described as an innovation compared to previous designs. Years later, the Eames Lounge chair took its place in the MoMa – Museum of Contemporary Art in New York.
Materials and Production
The main design focus of the Eames Lounge chair and Ottoman set was to provide an escape from the hardships of modern life, in a cosy yet sophisticated look of a baseball glove. In 1946, Ray and Charles formed a partnership with the manufacturer Herman Miller, to together go into mass production of the piece and adapt the plywood into other household fixtures.
The chair consisted of molded plywood, an aluminium base, and leather upholstery. Charles and Ray Eames already had relevant experience in the area of plywood, where they molded pieces for use by the US Navy during the second world war using heat and pressure techniques. Originally the Eames lounge chair was manufactured and composed with Brazilian rosewood veneer and three curved plywood shells and was later used in walnut, cherry and other finishes.
Since its introduction to the market, this armchair has been in continuous production by Herman Miller in America and later by the Italian company Vitra for the European market.
A timeless success
The exact reasons why the Eames lounge chair design has become a worldwide design icon are not concrete, but like all art, be it painting, music, or sculpture, there is always something within people that resonates a feeling, a memory, a story, or even an era and that goes with the timeline. The impact it had on the social context at the time it appeared generated a feeling of refuge from the most difficult times and because it was the novelty within that difficulty, it gave rise to a sense of comfort and security, making it timeless.
Ray and Charles’ influence not only impacted American culture in the early 20th century but went beyond borders. The couple was responsible for the mass production of furniture designs, toys, exhibitions, and films. Art flowed through their veins and out of their pores.