Eames lounge chair a landmark in furniture design

Charles & Ray Eames rosewood lounge chair and ottoman in green leather. Image courtesy of LiveAuctioneers archive and Palm Beach Modern Auctions

 

Of all the furniture designed by Charles and Ray Eames, the Eames Lounge (670) and Ottoman (671) are arguably the most renowned. Introduced in 1956 by Herman Miller Inc., the Eames Lounge chair has become synonymous with modern-design style.

It was the first chair that the husband and wife team designed for a high-end market. The Eames‘ earlier design efforts were aimed at developing furniture that could be mass-produced and affordable.

 

An Eames lounge chair and ottoman, circa 1977, having Herman Miller labels. Image courtesy of LiveAuctioneers.com archive and Neal Auction Co.

Eames lounge chair and ottoman, circa 1977, with Herman Miller labels. Image courtesy of LiveAuctioneers.com archive and Neal Auction Co.

 

Inspired by the traditional English club chair, the Eames lounge chair is composed of three curved plywood shells: the headrest, the backrest and the seat, all complemented by leather cushions, normally colored black. Colored leather cushions could be ordered.

The shells were made up of five thin layers of plywood, which – until the early 1990s – were covered by a veneer of Brazilian rosewood.

A 1956 rosewood Eames lounge and ottoman are in the permanent collection of the Museum of Modern Art in New York City.

Since its introduction, the chair and ottoman have been in continuous production by Herman Miller. Although the chair and ottoman have been copied, originals are well marked.