Charles and Ray Eames are two of the most important designers to have lived during the 20th century. Charles and Ray were a husband and wife pairing that designed a number of pieces of furniture and art that revolutionised the way furniture was designed and manufactured. In the 1940s, the Eames couple, were the first designers to use moulded plywood in their designs, giving them the ability to create attractive furniture that could be produced in large amounts for relatively affordable prices. Hundreds of pieces of furniture were designed and created by the Eames pair during their four decade long stint in the design world – this article will examine four of their most successful and groundbreaking designs.
Image courtesy of panullo87 on Flickr
LCM Moulded Plywood Chair – 1946
The Lounge Chair Metal, or LCM for short, moulded plywood chair was the first of its kind. First built in 1946 by ‘Evans Product’, the chair was comprised of a metal frame with plywood moulds attached on top. The chair was low seated and comfortable. The LCM was an instant hit and the design soon became a classic – many chairs mimicking the design of the original LCM chair can be purchased today.
The LCM was also one of the first of its kind as it used plywood as one of its main materials. Ray and Charles went on to design a number of other products using plywood, including screen doors, tables and many other chair designs. The popularity of the LCM chair also attracted the attention of the American Army who contracted Ray and Charles to create a number of plywood instruments such as splints and stretchers for use during war-time.
DSW Moulded Plastic Chair – 1950
The DSW, short for ‘dining height side chair wood’, moulded plastic chair was designed by the Eames couple in 1950. Once again, Ray and Charles used advances in manufacturing as a basis for their designs. The DSW went on to define history by becoming the first industrially manufactured plastic chair.
The design of the DSW chair was simple and elegant. Like the LCM, the DSW was a low sitting seat that was comfortable and light. The chair featured a rounded seat moulded out of fibreglass plastic with 4 wooden legs on the bottom. The DSW chair was initially available in three colours known as Greige (a grey/beige hybrid colour), Elephant Hide Grey and Parchment. A few months later, Sea Foam Green was added as an option, as were red and yellow.
The DSW chair’s design won the Eames couple a number of awards and a great deal of success. The design of the chair has proven to be timeless with DSW inspired chairs available today.
Eames Lounge Chair and Ottoman – 1956
The Eames Lounge Chair and Ottoman were two of the first pieces of furniture that Eames designed specifically for the high-end market.
While designing the Eames Lounge Chair and Ottoman, the Eames duo aimed to design a piece of furniture that was not only beautiful to look at, but comfortable too; a combination that was quite uncommon in the high end furniture market.
The chair was comprised of a rounded plywood shell attached to an aluminum stand to hold it upright. Leather cushions were added on top to make the chair comfortable to sit on. The Ottoman was designed similarly to the chair with a plywood casing and leather cushion for comfort.
The Eames Lounge Chair and Ottoman went on to be a huge success and the design was lauded as one of the greatest of all time. An original 1956 Eames Lounge Chair and Ottoman currently resides at New York’s Museum of Modern Art.
The Eames Chaise – 1969
The Eames Chaise was a narrow office chair made from an aluminum base and leather cushions. The Eames couple stated that the inspiration for the Chaise came from the film director ‘Billy Wilder’. Wilder told Eames that he used to take power naps on narrow planks of wood held up by sawhorses (small frames for holding up wood during woodworking). He would fold his arms over his chest and, when his arms eventually fell to his side, he’d be woken from his sleep. This allowed him to take short power naps as he was unable to keep his arms on his chest while in a deep sleep. Eames then endeavoured to take this concept and create a piece of furniture that emulated it. As a gesture of thanks, Charles Eames gave the first Eames Chaise to Wilder as a gift.
The Eames Chaise was unlike any piece of furniture that came before it. At 77 inches in length, it was a long piece of furniture while being incredibly narrow at a width of only 18 inches. The eggplant coloured leather was incredibly comfortable to lie on and it soon lulled the user of the chair to sleep.
The Eames Chaise was originally manufactured by Herman Miller who still, to this date, manufacture the Chaise for customers to buy.
Eames have become known as a design virtuoso that took cutting edge manufacturing processes and combined them with a visual aesthetic that was both elegant and beautiful to behold. The designs created by Eames served to inspire designers through the ages, fundamentally changing the way furniture was designed and created for the better. Even today, the Eames design aesthetic can be seen in many pieces of modern day furniture. The timeless nature of Eames designs have clearly stood the test of time and will be sure to live on for many more years to come.
This article was written on behalf of The Conran Shop who sell design classisc such as the Eames Lounge Chair and Barcelona Chair.