The History of Eames Chair: Know the Designer and Founder

history of Eames Chair

In this gadget era, it is hard for traditional items to remain ionic.

The Eames chair is one of the few items that has been able to stay popular due to the quality and comfort of the chair.

This is one of the most expensive and celebrated chairs that has been used in luxury homes as well as on films to convey their aura of power and status.

This post today will look at the history of Eames Chair that looks at factors and efforts that led to the Eames chair becoming a top cherry in the arena of the furniture industry.

Charles and Ray Eames were Passionate

Charles Eames and Ray Kaiser were a married couple who had a lot of experience in paint, materials, architecture,  design-almost everything that is needed to make quality furniture.

The couple worked hard, often six or seven days a week. A lot of experimentation was done when they worked with their furniture. They relied on the concept of “learning by doing”. This helped to invent the Eames chair as well as other successful chairs that kept their legacy alive.

Ray Kaiser

Ray displayed a lot of talent in the arts. Initially, she learned abstract painting but when she moved to the Cranbrook Academy of Art in Michigan, she got further exposure to various forms of arts.

Her new journey in arts leads her to meet her husband Charles Eames.

If you study her work, you will notice her attention to the details-she had her own taste for color and shape for her work. 

Her husband for this reason benefitted from her experience in painting and attention to the details. Because of how closely they worked together, Charles regarded her as his equal.

In fact, the original colors were chosen by Ray herself.

Although the chair is a mark of modern design, Ray stated to Charles in a letter that the chair looked “comfortable” but  “un-designy”

In the Eames office, where she and her husband designed and built their work, Ray was very careful about her collection of photographs and documents that commonly accumulate when designing and planning.

After her husband’s death, she went on to publish books, give lectures, and was also a consultant to IBM.

Charles Eames

Charles Eames was trained in manufacturing and architecture. He attended Washington University but got expelled due to his support for Frank Lloyd Wright’s work who was also a very famous American architect.

Charles was so serious and passionate about his field of interest that his home also resonated his innovative mind. His home was built using materials that were unusable during the Second World War.

In those days, a chair was not comfortable to sit on. It was just a tool for sitting. There were few efforts to address this issue despite complaints from a lot of people.

Charles was the one who addressed this complaint by starting a project by building and designing a chair that was not only comfortable but looked aesthetic.

 He wanted a chair that had the “warm, receptive look of a well-used first baseman’s mitt.”

Note: Although the Eames chair is commonly attributed to Charles and Ray Eames-it should be noted that a number of people were involved in the designing of the chair. This is not uncommon because like any specialised product such as the iPhone, all great products require experienced hands to build items that assist people.

Design Of Charles and Ray Eames Furniture

The Eames lounge chair was not only made by a married couple- the chair is also a marriage of design and engineering.

Designing a product requires a lot of effort because it blends business, design, manufacturing, and even problem-solving. 

Charles’s experience with manufacturing and business actually helped to bring an expensive chair into the market for high-end users.

When the chair was first made, the chair was made of steel.

Plywood and plastic were later used to make the Eames lounge chair. These two materials were not used to build quality furniture but during the 1950s, it was a new idea to integrate plywood and plastic for a piece of designed work.

Even to this day, the chair is hand made using 3 pieces of molded plywood. The first is the base, followed by a separate headrest and a backrest.

 These 3 important pieces are covered in cherry and walnut finishes. In the beginning, they were covered in rosewood veneer.

The chair’s design was inspired by the classic English Club chair which is a type of armchair that is usually covered in leather.

Unknown to many, both the chair and the ottoman was first drawn by Corita Kent, who was not only an artist but also a Roman Catholic religious sister.

In terms of the leather, the quality of the leather is so high that it is almost strongly prohibited not to use commercial leather products. This is due to the leather having contained natural oils that help to keep the leather alive forever. In addition, the cushion of the chair does not flatten or change shape over time. 

Marketing History of Eames Chair

Unknown to many, the marketing of the Eames Chair actually played a vital role in keeping the chair so popular even to this day.

Just like Apple Inc, the Eames office did not ignore the importance of marketing.

The chair first appeared on  Arlene Francis’s  Home show on NBC television in 1956. The Home Show broadcasted its show that targeted women at that time.

After the chair appeared on television, posters were used to advertise the comfort of the chairs. If you look at old posters for the Eames chair used in those days- the choice of words to describe the importance of comfort would be emphasized.

Today, many films and live shows frequently display these chairs to reflect quality and authenticity. For example, the Iron Man film in 2008 featured the Eames Chair. 

Even though it is a luxury item, the popularity has led many firms to build chairs similar to the original chair but at an affordable price.

A favorite incident of this chair involves film producer Julian Blaustein. He was invited by Charles Eames to try the chair. Blaustein was supposed to read scripts while he sat on the chair but instead-he fell asleep! 

The promotion of the chair is not just limited to films and the wealthy but also research, and art schools where the details of the chair are still studied to facilitate innovation.

A lot of great products are noticed through competition. Surprisingly, this was not the case for the Eames chair. In 1948, the chair was presented at the International Competition for Low-Cost Furniture Design.

Although the chair did not win at this very competition-it did win in terms of comfort when it came to selling it to customers.

So Marketing did play a vital role in the history of Eames chair.

Facts of Eames Lounge Chair

  • The Eames Lounge chair has been in continuous production since 1956.
  • Corita Kent, who sketched  the first design, was Ray’s friend.
  • The design has not changed since it began production.
  • This chair is the first to be introduced on a television platform.
  • The blades of the chair were initially made to be used as a Contract Table base.
  • The Playboy Magazine featured an article featuring modern designers including the Eames and their Lounge Chair.
  • The second person to own an Eames Lounge chair was Billy Wilder. The  Eames chair was given to Wilder as a gift in response to a modern chair Wilder had given  as a present.
  • Although Charles went to university to study architecture-he dropped out after 2 years without an architect’s licence.
  • There is also a film on the making of the chair. The film  was made by Ray herself.
  • Plastic was not used in those days to make furniture. The Eames Office introduced the idea of mass-producing large scales of furniture made with plastic.

FAQs

Question 1: Is the Eames Lounge Chair the best selling chair for Charles Eames and his wife ?

Answer: Nope. The Eames chair is certainly the most ionic chair but not their best selling chair.

Their best selling chair is the Tandem Sling Seating which is a best-selling item. This seating arrangement is used at airports all over the world.

Question 2: What is the Eames Chair made of ?

Answer: The  Eames chairs are made from aluminium, plywood,leather, fiberglass, mesh and plastic. 

Question 3: Is the chair still in production ?

Answer: Yes, the chair is still made and sold by Herman Miller.

Question 4: Has there been a change in the Design of the Chair ?

Answer: No, the initial look and design has not changed at all. 

However, in 2010, a taller size of the chair was developed. This is because statistically,  the average height of people around the world has increased by one inch. 

Question 5: Why is the Eames chair bought despite such a high price ?

Answer: The chair is of course very comfortable. But buying one is  like actually buying an old piece of art from 50 years ago.

This chair has its own brand image and has grown even more due to its quality and effort that goes into making hand-made furniture. The materials is also another factor-the leather of this chair is a long lasting material that will last for lifetime.

If you have read the above history of Eames Chair  you will know what makes this chair so special.

Question 6: Are there  Eames chairs available at an affordable price ?

Answer: Oh yes there are eames lounge chair replica available at a much more meaningful price.

We wrote an in-depth article on chairs that will give you the same experience as an Eames chair. Have a look at the Best Eames Chair Replica Review where a list was compiled after months of trying and finding out suitable chairs similar to an Eames chair. An Eames lounge chair replica may not look like the original but will give you the same experience.

Question 7: Where can the Eames chair be used?

Answer: The Eames chair can be used anywhere except for outdoor purposes. You can use this chair in the living room, Bedroom and anywhere else so long as it is inside the house.

Question 8: How long can the Eames chair be used ?

Answer: Because the chair is made with such quality materials the chair can last for generations. 

Question 9: Is the Eames Chair Pet-Friendly ?

Answer: There is nothing wrong with pets sitting on your chair. However, I like to discourage my dogs from sitting on this chair because the chair is of such high value. Animals are not supposed to know the importance of an Eames Chair.

You can check out this blog on Pet Friendly Furniture if you are looking for furniture that is suitable for your pets. It is a short guide for pet owners who are also passionate about their furniture.

Final Thoughts

Although the chair did not win the competition in 1948, it is considered to be the first chair ever to be produced at a large scale while also being sold at a luxury price.

This is it for today’s history of Eames chair. If you would like to know more details about a particular piece of furniture, feel free to comment in the box below.

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