AFTER 64 YEARS OF CONTINUOUS PRODUCTION, THE EAMES LOUNGE CHAIR AND OTTOMAN SET STILL REIGNS AS ONE OF THE MOST CHERISHED EXAMPLES OF MODERN LUXURY DÉCOR
BY TIA KIM
Charles and Ray Eames, pioneers in both Mid Century Modern furniture design and the application of molded plywood in order to obtain their favored curvilinear frame shapes, began an eponymously named design office in Los Angeles in 1943, one that operated continuously until 1988, when Alexandra “Ray” Kaiser Eames, Charles’s wife, passed away (he had died a decade prior). The pair’s stacking chairs, still beloved desk chairs, and aluminum pieces many commissioned by furniture company, Herman Millerare iconic in every respect, though no other concept of theirs has enduring affection and admiration among designers comparable to the firm’s Lounge Chair, commissioned by Herman Miller and first sold in 1956.
Conceived as a set (with ottoman), this was the product of years of experimentation and was something of a departure from the Eames’ ongoing mission of making modern furniture more affordable. From the start classified as a luxury item, this take on a 19th century club chair was inspired, Charles said, by a “well used first baseman’s mitt.” Its shells were made of five layers of plywood, surrounded by a Brazilian rosewood veneer (substituted since 1990 by Herman Miller with a choice of Walnut, Santos Palisander, and Ebony). And this was not only a fresh exercise in modernism, but also mid century marketing; it appeared on NBC’s Home show in the year of its debut, and was heavily marketed with a print campaign as well. In continuous production for 64 years, it is also part of the permanent collection of New York’s Museum of Modern Art.
Assembled by hand in Michigan, new examples are available in a choice of leathers, as well as in Maharam Mohair Supreme, a 100% mohair textile.
Herman Miller Store
251 Park Avenue South, Manhattan / 212.318.3977 / hermanmiller.com
Also available at Design Within Reach stores, including its location in Paramus at 1 Garden State Plaza / 201.843.2650 / dwr.com/home