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Books: The Story of Eames Furniture

From a small workshop in Venice, California, the Eames Office designed and developed some of the most iconic furniture in the history of modern design. Many of the people who worked with Charles & Ray Eames include, Eero Saarinen, Gregory Ain, the sculptor Marion Overby, graphic designer Herbert Matter, and John Entenza who edited Arts + Architecture Magazine whose lasting contribution was his sponsorship of the Case Study Houses project.

Thoroughly researched by Marilyn Neuhart together with her husband John, who both worked with the Eames Office in various capacities from the 1950s until 1978, The Story of Eames Furniture is an insiders account of the workings of the Eames Office from its founding 1943 and its closing in 1988. The book extremely detailed and gives real insight into the relationships between Charles, Ray and some of the people who worked in the office, like Harry Bertoia, who let it be known that he would quit working everyday at 5:00pm, much to the surprise of his co-workers and greatly upsetting the Eames’ Calvinist work ethic. The book also examines some of the tensions in running a design office: many Eames Office employees were never really sure if they had full-time employment, and often felt that they were not properly given credit for the design they created.

With detailed illustrations, photography and patent drawings, the book details design classics like the Lounge Chair and armchairs that were first presented as part of a New York Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) competition, “Low Cost Furniture Design”. The organically shaped plastic seat shells were later combined with various different bases and manufactured in their millions. The second book is also a history of Herman Miller, with its origins in Zeeland Michigan, founded by local Dutch businessmen, it traces the Company’s development from manufacturer of traditional furniture to the influence of design developments in Europe preceding WWII to the rapid post-war development of the Company. It also examines the significant influence that George Nelson had on Herman Miller when he worked as design director.

Book 1: The Early Years

The first book presents the early years of the Eames Office and its method of furniture design and development. It introduces not only Charles and Ray Eames, but also key members of their design team including Eero Saarinen, Harry Bertoia, Herbert Matter, and others–a widely diverse group of people who actually did the day-by-day work on the furniture projects and who together ultimately turned contemporary design in a new direction.

The story begins here with an account of the furniture Charles Eames designed for MoMA’s 1940 Organic Furniture Competition. It was this groundbreaking work with the light material plywood that led to his first commissions from the US Army for molded plywood splints and stretchers, which were used on a huge scaled during the Second World War. Creating these designs for mass-production, in turn, was the impetus for what was to be Eames’s major career in technology-based design founded on a new aesthetic.

This book focuses on Charles Eames’s early work with plywood. It documents how he pursued his goal of adapting plywood-molding techniques into a system to mass-produce furniture. In doing so, Eames was the first to develop and apply mass-production techniques to furniture thus creating the modern furniture industry as we know it today.

Book 2: The Herman Miller Age

This second book features the period from the aftermath of the Second World War through 1978, the year of Charles Eames’s death and of the functional end of the Eames Office. By explaining the pioneering industrial processes used with innovative materials such as fiberglass, wire, and aluminum, it provides incomparable insight into how new technologies serves as the genesis for the most interesting pieces of Eames furniture.

This book focuses on the role of the Herman Miller Furniture Company in the evolution of furniture design at the Eames Office. It offers an in-depth examination of the Office’s relationship to the company that was, in essence, Charles Eames’s patron in furniture design and development. In addition to producing and marketing all of the furniture that issues from the Eames Office from 1949 to Charles’s death and beyond, the Herman Miller Furniture Company funded all of its development and prototype work. This volume also investigates the influence of Don Albinson, who was Charles Eames’s primary designer and technician from the mid-1940s to 1960.

The creation and spread of the landmark furniture design documented here is simultaneously the story of how modernism became established in homes and offices throughout the world. This second book celebrates Charles Eames’s vanguard cultural achievement of giving modern society the opportunity of materializing its identity through the Eames Office’s furniture.

The Story of Eames Furniture by Marilyn Neuhart with John Neuhart
Published by Gestalten, Format: 25.5 x 29.2 cm, Features: 800 pages, full color, hardcover,
2 volumes in slipcase, ISBN: 9783899552300
Buy it here: Amazon


Monday, November 1st, 2010


Yii Collection Taiwan Craft Research Institute
Coatstand by Verner Panton from Schönbuch

 

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