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The Making of an Icon

As this year marks the 65th anniversary of the Eames Lounge and Ottoman, we reflect on what ensured the longevity and notability of this mid-century design classic.

Merging comfort, practicality and sleek lines, the Eames Lounge and Ottoman were designed for the Herman Miller furniture company in 1956 by Charles and Ray Eames.

Inspired by traditional English club chairs, it was designed to have “the warm, receptive look of a well-used first baseman’s mitt”, according to Charles.

This warm, receptive look came in the form of three moulded plywood shells, cased in veneer and holding leather upholstered cushions, appearing to cup users.

By the late 1940s, Charles and Ray Eames had become well known for their use of moulded plywood having been commissioned by the US Navy during WWII to use this knowledge for the design of splints and stretchers.

This experimentation led to their later plywood designs, including their first moulded plywood dining chairs, which were named by Times Magazine as The Best Design of the 20th Century and recognised as “something elegant, light and comfortable. Much copied but never bettered”.

The development of the Eames Lounge and Ottoman’s in the mid-50s was the first high-end chair by Charles and Ray. Its immediately recognisable design soon became an iconic piece of 20th Century American Modernist furniture, earning it a place in the permanent collection in New York’s Museum of Modern Art.

The chair’s practicality, simple lines and high-level craftsmanship have cemented the Eames Lounge and Ottoman as a design classic, while also ensuring its place as one of the world’s most replicated chairs.

New wood and fabric options have been developed to mark the design’s 65th anniversary. Giving the design a lighter character, it’s now available in soft, cozy Flamiber bouclé and white oak wood veneer.

Herman Miller
hermanmiller.com

Read about how Herman Miller and Knoll recently joined forces

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