Eames Lounge Chair
Eames Lounge Chair and ottoman
|Designer||Charles and Ray Eames|
|Style / tradition||Modern|
|Sold by||Herman Miller (United States)|
The Eames Lounge Chair and ottoman are furnishings made of molded plywood and leather, designed by Charles and Ray Eames for the Herman Miller furniture company. They are officially titled Eames Lounge (670) and Ottoman (671) and were released in 1956 after years of development by designers. It was the first chair that the Eameses designed for a high-end market. Examples of these furnishings are part of the permanent collection of New York's Museum of Modern Art.
Charles and Ray Eames sought to develop furniture that could be mass-produced and affordable, with the exception of the Eames Lounge Chair. This luxury item was inspired by the traditional English club chair. The Eames Lounge Chair is an icon of Modern style design, although when it was first made, Ray Eames remarked in a letter to Charles that the chair looked "comfortable and un-designy". Charles's vision was for a chair with "the warm, receptive look of a well-used first baseman's mitt." The chair is composed of three curved plywood shells covered with veneer: the headrest, the backrest and the seat. The layers are glued together and shaped under heat and pressure. The shells and the seat cushions are essentially of the same shape, and composed of two curved forms interlocking to form a solid mass. The chair back and headrest are identical in proportion, as are the seat and the ottoman.
The products have changed in various ways over time. 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. The use of Brazilian rosewood was discontinued in the early 1990s, and current production since then consists of seven layers of plywood covered by finishing veneers of cherry, walnut, Palisander rosewood (a sustainably grown wood with similar grain patterns to the original Brazilian versions), and other finishes. Small changes include the sets of spacers between the aluminum spines and the wood panels, originally of rubber, later hard plastic washers, and the number of screws securing the armrests, originally three, changed to two in second-series models, while the "domes of silence" (glides/feet) on the chair base originally had thinner screws attaching them to the aluminum base than those on later chairs, and the zipper around the cushions, either brown or black on early models, was later black only. Further, early ottomans had removable rubber slide-on feet with metal glides, and early labels are of oblong foil.
The Eameses constantly made use of new materials. The pair's first plywood chair—the Eames Lounge Chair Wood (LCW)—made use of a heavy rubber washer glued to the backrest of the chair and screwed to the lumbar support. These washers, which have come to be called "shock mounts", allow the backrest to flex slightly. This technology was brought back in the 670 Lounge chair. The backrest and headrest are screwed together by a pair of aluminum supports. This unit is suspended on the seat via two connection points in the armrests. The armrests are screwed to shock mounts, which are connected only by glue to the interior of the backrest shell, allowing the backrest and headrest to flex when the chair is in use. This is part of the chair's unusual design, as well as its weakest link, as the shock mounts have been known to tear free, causing collapse and damage.
Other creative uses of materials include the seat cushions, which 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. This design, along with the hidden shock mounts in the armrest allow the outside veneer of the chair to be unmarred by screws or bolts. The chair has a low seat which is permanently fixed at a recline. The seat of the chair swivels on a cast aluminum base, with glides that are threaded so that the chair will remain level.
The Eames Lounge Chair first appeared on the Arlene Francis Home show broadcast on the NBC television network in the USA in 1956. Immediately following the debut, Herman Miller launched an advertising campaign that highlighted the versatility of the chair. Print ads depicted the 670 in a Victorian parlor, occupied by a grandmother shelling peas on the front porch of an American Gothic style house, and in the middle of a sunny field of hay.
Since its introduction, the chair has been in continuous production by Herman Miller in America. Later, Vitra (in cooperation with the German furniture company Fritz Becker KG) began producing the chair for the European market. It was licensed in the UK for 10 years to Hille International LTD from 1957. Immediately following its release, other furniture companies began to copy the chair's design. Some made direct copies, others were merely influenced by the design. The former Plycraft Company issued dozens of chairs that were direct copies of or in-the-style-of the Eames 670. Later Chinese and European companies began making direct copies. However, Herman Miller and Vitra remain the only two companies to produce these chairs with the Eames name attached.
In 2006, to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the chair, Herman Miller released models using a sustainable Palisander rosewood veneer.
In Popular Culture
- House (TV series) features a version of the chair and ottoman in his office with corduroy upholstery. After being committed to Greystone Park Psychiatric Hospital, Gregory House must go on a mission to recover the chair and other furnishings for his office in House (season 6).
- Frasier features the chair and ottoman in the apartment of the titular character, Frasier Crane, who identifies it by name in the pilot episode and describes it in a later episode as "...the best-engineered chair in the world." Like most of the furnishings, it is there for the entire series.
- Shark Tank replaced its red chairs it had for eight seasons with Eames Lounge Chairs as part of a new, modern set.
- Malory Archer's office chair in Archer is an animation of the Eames Lounge Chair. The Eames Lounge Chair and ottoman also appear in Season 4 Episode 9 in a luxury hotel bedroom which Lana and Archer stay in as part of a mission.
- A white version of the chair appears in Tron Legacy
- The 2006 Adam Sandler film Click features one of the chairs.
- The chair appears in the 1963 film Sunday in New York.
- Tony Stark's mansion in the 2008 Iron Man film features an Eames Lounge Chair.
- Gossip Girl features an Eames Lounge Chair caoted in Missoni fabric.
- The chair features in 2012 movie Hope Springs.
- The Korean film The Housemaid also features the chair.
- A 1956 rosewood Eames Lounge Chair and ottoman are in the permanent collection of the Museum of Modern Art in New York City. The set was a gift of the Herman Miller Company, donated in 1960.
- A rosewood Eames Lounge Chair and ottoman are on display at the Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn, Michigan.
- A walnut or rosewood Eames Lounge Chair and ottoman are on display and in the permanent collection of the Museum of Fine Arts Boston.
- "Charles Eames, Ray Eames. Lounge Chair and Ottoman. 1956 | MoMA". The Museum of Modern Art.
- Rybczynski, Witold. Now I Sit Me Down: From Klismos to Plastic Chair: A Natural History. Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2016.
- "How to Identify an Original Eames Lounge Chair". The Spruce.
- Eames, Charles and Ray (1956). "Eames Lounge Chair". Home show. YouTube. Retrieved 22 June 2015.
- Nieland, Justus. Happiness by Design: Modernism and Media in the Eames Era. University of Minnesota Press, 2020. pp68-69
- "Martin Crane's hideous chair was the true star of Frasier". www.newstatesman.com.
- DAROWSKI, J. J., & DAROWSKI, K. (2017).Frasier: A Cultural History.Lanham : Rowman & Littlefield. p121
- "What's The Newest Style Upgrade On ABC's SharkTank?". Manhattan Home Design. Retrieved 2019-08-17.
- Shark Tank: New Set, New Guest Sharks!, retrieved 2019-08-17
- "Shark Tank's new set, and five other terrific changes". reality blurred. October 2, 2017.
- "Eames Spotting: Animated Eames". Eames Spotting. Retrieved 16 September 2015.
- "Eames furniture in film and the 'must see' exhibition at the Barbican". Film and Furniture. January 13, 2016.
- "Lounge chair and ottoman, No. 670 and 671". 22 July 2016. Retrieved 30 March 2017.
- Eidelberg, Martin; Hine, Thomas; Kirkham, Pat (March 1, 2006). The Eames Lounge Chair: An Icon of Modern Design. Grand Rapids London: Grand Rapids Art Museum in association with Merrell. ISBN 978-1-85894-302-2.