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Design Detail: The Eames Lounge Chair

Lifestyle 23 August 2019 Read time: 2 minutes

'Home' was a failed TV program of the the 1950s in America, but in one of its 893 episodes aired on NBC, actress Ariene Francis presented the Eames Lounge Chair to the world for the very first time.

Originally created by husband and wife team Charles and Ray Eames in 1956 as a gift for their friend Billy Wilder, the director of films including Sunset Boulevard and Some Like it Hot.

Now, the concept has been copied by a number of other companies and has been the inspiration for host of artists to create something more opulent without sacrificing design.

The Modernist couple wanted the chair to be a more luxurious number, one that was a futuristic alternative to the traditional English club chair — retaining the ample proportions and comfort of this archetypal product, but employing the latest materials and craftsmanship.

The Eames’ decided to make use of the innovative moulded plywood production method that they had pioneered since the early 1940s, when they created a lightweight leg splint that was bulk ordered for use by the US Navy.

Die-cast aluminium bases support the wooden shells, which are covered by leather-upholstered cushions to give the chair what Charles Eames described as “the receptive look of a well-used baseman’s mitt”.

What they produced was something far more beautiful than a used sports glove — but something just as iconic.

The design was not only revolutionary, but innovative as well. A fasting system is used to fix the cushions to the shells without the need for visible screws or nails, while a zipper is sewn onto the edge of the cushions to attach the plastic backing that, in turn, connects onto a series of hidden rings.

They used the same curving shell section of the design on an ottoman to complete the look and increase comfort.

When Herman Miller decided to manufacture the chair and bring it to market in 1956 there was nothing else quite like it. 63 years later it still seamlessly fits in to any luxurious home — an icon that stands the test of time.

What started as a “special refuge from the strains of modern living” is now a piece not only still in continuous production, but included in the permanent collection of many of the world's leading museums, including MoMA in New York and the Art Institute of Chicago.

Today, you can include it in your lounge or office space in a variety of different shades and colours. A replica version, like this one from catch is a more inexpensive option.

But to get that authentic look and feel the Eames Lounge Chair was designed for, spend a little more. Purchase an original version and own one of the most significant designs of the 20th century.

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All images credit: hermanmiller