viernes, 15 de abril de 2011


The Eames Molded Plastic Chair Collection: Design Story

The Eames Molded Plastic Chairs are some of the most popular and instantly recognizable in the canon of modern design. They have been the centerpieces of homes and offices, and they’ve been deployed in schools, churches, and large gathering and meeting areas for decades and decades, ever since they were first debuted by Herman Miller and Charles and Ray Eames in the 40s and 50s. The chairs are popular for many reasons. They’re beautiful, they're technologically advanced and innovative, they’re vibrant and colorful and playful, and they're very comfortable. There’s not much more you can ask for when it comes to a chair. But how did the chair come to be? What was the impetus for it's creation, and what came to shape how it would look in it’s final incarnations? This is the design story of the Eames Molded Plastic Chairs.

Every creation story begins with the creators. In this case, that means Charles and Ray Eames, the husband and wife team who designed the chairs (as well as many other pieces of fine furniture for Herman Miller). Charles and Ray Eames are possibly the most accomplished and most far-ranging industrial designers in history. Certainly in America, their work is really without peer in the field. They didn't limit themselves to popular taste, safe choices, or even furniture; they made everything, and they made everything comfortable, fascinating, and attractive. They were filmmakers, painters and illustrators, furniture makers, designers, architects, toy makers, and business people. They ran the Office of Charles and Ray Eames in California for many decades, and it persists today under the aegis of their remaining family. The Office turned out innumerable contributions to the rich American history of design while it was operating, and even today spends time making films and exhibitions, and keeping the memory and physical presence of their creations at the forefront of the American design world.

Charles and Ray met when they were young, at Cranbrook Academy in Michigan (Herman Miller is also headquartered in Michigan). Charles was a teacher, and Ray was a student, and the glint in their eyes upon meeting had little to do with the Eames Molded Plastic Chair that was on the far horizon. They quickly realized they were right for each other, and marriage followed hard on their heels. After a fashion they moved to California to get their lives as designers and partners started. The first thing they wanted to do was build a chair out of molded plywood, which at the time seemed impossible as a mass-production effort. The molded plywood would become molded plastic only after a fashion; at the time the plastic material was not a commercial product. For a long time they worked on the problem in their little apartment while they worked day jobs. Ray became an illustrator and painted and drew magazine covers. Charles went to work at MGM, where he was a well respected set designer. The perk of working at the movie studio for Charles was that he often got his pick of cast off materials, like plywood, steel and other industrial products, that he could take home and go to work on with Ray.