August 1, 2013

The Best Eames Chairs Designs

DSR chair
Yes, the ubiquitous DSR, and the chair (in white) I’m sitting on to write this. The initials stand for Dining (height) Side (chair) Rod (base). Designed in 1948, the DSR has a distinctive chrome base, giving it the nickname the “Eiffel” chair. It was one of a series, all with the same seat shell, made at first from fibreglass and now, less satisfyingly, from polypropylene. The DSW has a wooden base, the DAW and DAR are armchairs (either with a wooden or rod base) and the RAR (my favourite) is a rocking armchair with a rod base. The original colours were greige, elephant hide grey, parchment and seafoam green

Lounge Chair and Ottoman

I defy anyone to find a seat more comfortable than the Eames Lounge Chair and Ottoman, released in 1956 for the Herman Miller furniture company. Charles Eames’s vision was for something that had the “warm, receptive look of a well-used first baseman’s mitt”, and the result was this blissful embrace of a chair in moulded plywood and leather. Now part of the permanent collection at the Museum of Modern Art, I regret more than I can say the fact that I’ve come to associate it with Peter Mandelson, who was famously photographed disporting himself in one at home in Notting Hill in 1999

La Chaise

This chair, designed for a competition at the Museum of Modern Art in 1948, was inspired by Floating Figure, a 1927 nude in bronze by the French-American sculptor Gaston Lachaise. Made of fibreglass on a base of steel and oak, it is in many ways an uncharacteristic Eames design, being so much more beautiful than it is comfortable; it also proved too expensive to produce until the 1990s when Vitra finally began its manufacture. For those who have space enough for chairs that need never be used, it’s an exquisite statement piece. But for anyone else it’s (literally) a pain in the backside

Eames Lounge Chair Wood 
In 1999, Time magazine declared the LCW the greatest design of the 20th century. The original LCW was born in 1945, of Charles’s work designing plywood splints for the US air force, using curves to mimic the shape of the human leg. After several experiments – plywood split if bent too much – Charles and Ray came up with a model using two separate pieces of plywood joined by a plywood spine. The dream of a single-shell chair was over (Charles and Eero Saarinen had entered one in a competition in 1940, covering any cracks with upholstery). In its place was an “honest” ergonomic chair that was soon coveted the world over

Wire chairs 
Who sits on a wire chair? A man in “difficult” spectacles who fusses about how his espresso is made, and owns 10 shirts all of the same colour and design. Strange, then, that this is an Eames creation. The Eameses were mostly great fun, as you may tell from the famous photograph they took of themselves in which they look to have been pinned to a wall like a couple of insect specimens. They liked jokes, games and collecting things; Ray, in particular, was too much of a hoarder ever to pass as a minimalist. The wire chair (1951) is certainly not a joke. It is, in fact, no fun at all. But it sure looks good against a concrete wall or hard wood floor

Aluminum Group ‘Task’ chair 
An icon of office furniture, though originally commissioned as outdoor seating, with a mesh seat where there is now leather. The Aluminum Group chair went into production in 1958 but has a timeless quality. Not to be confused with its near relative the Lobby chair (1960), designed for the Time-Life building in New York, which Bobby Fischer insisted on sitting on during the 1972 world chess championship in Reykjavik. Furniture firm Herman Miller duly dispatched one for Fischer, and for his opponent, Boris Spassky

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