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
This authoritative and meticulously researched collection charts the story of product design over the past 200 years. It was years in the making and was compiled via rigorous selection process by an international panel of design-world insiders, including architects, critics, curators, product designers, auctioneers, and historians.
The application offers, at the touch of a finger, access to an encyclopedic, illustrated history of 1,000 timeless design classics by not only renowned designers, such as Marcel Breuer, Achille Castiglioni, Le Corbusier, Jasper Morrison, Dieter Rams, Eero Saarinen, and Philippe Starck but also anonymously designed pieces, such as the clothes peg, the corkscrew, and the chopstick, that have stood the test of time.
Heavily influenced by the German Bauhaus and Ulm School of Art, Dieter Rams pioneered a design spirit which embraced modernity and placed function above all, resulting in products that were free of decoration, simple in function and its purpose self-evident. Through his more than 40 years of work at Braun, Dieter Rams designed anything from hair dryers, cigarette lighters, loudspeakers, radios and radio-phonographs to clocks and watches. Each item holds a special place in the history of industrial design and has established Dieter Rams as one of the most influential designers of the late 20th century. With the logically-placed and spatial definition of their controls, simple forms and philosophy of functionalism, Braun products remain influential to product designers today.
Less and More elucidates the design philosophy of Dieter Rams. The book contains images of hundreds of Rams’s products as well as his sketches and models – from Braun stereo systems and electric shavers to the chairs and shelving systems that he created for Vitsoe and sold by sdr+. In addition to the rich visual presentation of his designs, the book contains new texts by international design experts that explain how the work was created, describe its timeless quality, and put it into current context. In this way, the work of Dieter Rams is given a contemporary reevaluation that is especially useful in light of the rediscovery of functionalism and rationalism in today’s design. Less and More shows us the possibilities that design opens for both the manufacturer and the consumer as a means of making our lives better through attractive, functional solutions that also save resources.
Read more: Ten principles of “good design”
Less and More is edited by Professor Klaus Klemp and Keiko Ueki-Polet. One of the world’s leading experts in the field of product design, Klemp has been acquainted with Dieter Rams for many years and is an authority on his work. Ueki-Polet is one of Japan’s most renowned design curators. She is well acquainted with design developments in both Asia and the Western world and works at the Suntory Museum in Osaka.
Less and More: The Design Ethos of Dieter Rams, Editors: Klaus Klemp, Keiko Ueki-Polet, German/English, 19 × 23 cm, 808 pages, full color, PVC cover, in slipcase
“As a painter, typographer, photographer, stage designer, and architect, Moholy was one of the most creative intelligences of our time.”
– Herbert Read
One of the great innovators of the European avant-garde, László Moholy-Nagy (1895-1946) is best known for his affiliation with the famous Bauhaus school in Germany, where he taught from 1923-28. In 1937, at the invitation of Walter Paepcke, the Chairman of the Container Corporation of America, Moholy-Nagy moved to Chicago to become the director of the New Bauhaus. The philosophy of the school was basically unchanged from that of the original, and its headquarters was the Prairie Avenue mansion that architect Richard Morris Hunt designed for department store magnate Marshall Field.
Unfortunately, the school lost the financial backing of its supporters after only a single academic year and it closed in 1938. Paepcke, however, continued his own support, and in 1939, Moholy-Nagy opened the School of Design. In 1944, this became the Institute of Design, located in Ludwig Mies van der Rohe’s, Crown Hall at the Illinois Institute of Technology.
“Design has many connotations. It is the organization of materials and processes in the most productive, economic way, in a harmonious balance of all elements necessary for a certain function. It is not a matter of façade, of mere external appearance; rather it is the essence of products and institutions, penetrating and comprehensive. Designing is a complex and intricate task. It is integration of technological, social and economic requirements, biological necessities, and the psychophysical effects of materials, shape, color, volume, and space: thinking in relationships. The designer must see the periphery as well as the core, the immediate and the ultimate, at least in the biological sense. He must anchor his special job in the complex whole. The designer must be trained not only in the use of materials and various skills, but also in appreciation of organic functions and planning. He must know that design is indivisible, that the internal and external characteristics of a dish, a chair, a table, a machine, painting, sculpture are not to be separated. The idea of design and the profession of the designer has to be transformed from the notion of a specialist function into a generally valid attitude of resourcefulness and inventiveness which allows projects to be seen not in isolation but in relationship with the need of the individual and the community. One cannot simply lift out any subject matter from the complexity of life and try to handle it as an independent unit.”
(Moholy-Nagy, Vision in Motion, 1947)
“There is design in organization of emotional experiences, in family life, in labor relations, in city planning, in working together as civilized human beings. Ultimately all problems of design merge into one great problem: ‘design for life’. In a healthy society this design for life will encourage every profession and vocation to play its part since the degree of relatedness in all their work gives to any civilization its quality. This implies that it is desirable that everyone should solve his special task with the wide scope of a true “designer” with the new urge to integrated relationships. It further implies that there is no hierarchy of the arts, painting photography, music, poetry, sculpture, architecture, nor of any other fields such as industrial design. They are equally valid departures toward the fusion of function and content in design.”
(Moholy-Nagy, Vision in Motion, 1947)
An exhaustive visual compendium of the modern movement, circa 1947. Includes many examples of Bauhaus and the New Bauhaus (Institute of Design). Designers, photographers, architects and artists represented in this volume are a cross-section of the 20th-century modern movement: Alvar Aalto, Berenice Abbot, Jean Arp, Willie Baumeister, Herbert Bayer, Max Bill, Marcel Breuer, Robert Brownjohn, Le Corbusier, Theo van Doesburg, Henry Dreyfuss, Naum Gabo, Morton Goldsholl, Juan Gris, Walter Gropius, Raoul Hausmann, Kasimir Malevich, Herbert Matter, Mies van der Rohe, Piet Mondrian, Richard Neutra, Ben Nicholson, Paul Rand, Bernard Rodofsky, Ladislav Sutnar, Angelo Testa, James Prestini, Frank Lloyd Wright and many others.
Vision in Motion: László Moholy-Nagy, Hardcover, 9″ x 11″, 376 pages, 440 illustrations (11 in color). Book Design and Typography by the Author. Rare and Out of Print.
Buy it here: Amazon
One of world’s most respected authorities on design and antiques, Judith Miller, presents a carefully curated selection of chairs and places them in their historical context. Nearly 400 years of chair designs are featured in chronological order, ranging from early antiques such as the 1680 Wainscot Chair and the 1740 Louis XV Chaise Longue, to modern day collectables such as Marc Newson’s 1988’s Embryo and Tom Dixon’s 2007 Wingback.
Beautifully Photographed in situ by Nick Pope, the chairs assume their iconic status; an occasional two-page spread shows incredible detail, revealing the craftsmanship and creative energy of the designer. The accompanying text for each chair gives a real insight into the thinking of the designer, historical facts, technical details, and places it in context to the manufacturing capabilities of its time, as well as identifying the period style to which the chair belongs.
“Sometimes I think you are unlikely to be a successful architect or designer unless you have designed a classic chair; and this is not just a contemporary phenomenon”.
- Terence Conran
Fifty Chairs That Changed The World lists the top 50 chairs that have made a substantial impact in the world of design today. It includes design classics from Thonet’s 1870 Side Chair to Konstantin Grcic’s Chair_One. It is possible to trace a remarkable complete history of design in the last 150 years through a sequence of chairs. The Design Museum values its collection of contemporary chairs, and this book provides an introduction into 50 of the key chairs that have shaped the story of design.
Fifty Chairs That Changed the World – The Design Museum, Hardback, 202 x 152 mm,
112 Pages, Published by Conran Octopus Ltd,
Buy it here: Amazon
This unusual “book as object” designed by Dutch book designer Irma Boom is a hefty brick of a book, which features 700 prints, posters and other objects from the collection of Zurich’s Gestaltung Museum. Founded in 1875, the museum is renowned worldwide for its unsurpassed holdings of design masterpieces including, Ettore Sottsass’s design classic, Valentine Typewriter for Olivetti, Paul Rand’s 1950 poster for the film No Way Out, works by El Lissitzky and Harry Bertoia, as well as works by important designers, textile artists and sculptors. The book is organized according to various criteria, and almost every page is a full sized image, that gives the impression of experiencing the entire collection in a manageable format.
Every Thing Design, The Collections of the Museum für Gestaltung Zürich, Edited by Christian Brändle, Verena Formanek. Text by Christian Brändle, Glenn Adamson, Published by Hatje Cantz, Hardcover, 864 pp., 700 Color Illustrations, 12.8 x 15.7 cm,
Buy it here: Amazon
We are experiencing a renaissance in furniture design with new forms, new directions, a focus on social responsibility and a blurring of the boundaries between art and design; strangely this movement resembles the values of the Bauhaus school, founded over 90 years ago. Once Upon a Chair is a survey of contemporary trends in design that are influenced by craft, folklore, nature, and technology, especially as it relates to new ways of designing and manufacturing. The book is full of examples and illustrations by well-known and up-and-coming designers, many of which are featured on Daily Icon and many that will surprise and delight you.
Once Upon a Chair examines several key trends indicating a recognisable shift towards progressive design that makes a social impact – designers are collaborating with artisans to revive the tradition of craft, elevating it to new levels of luxury. A conscious effort to produce sustainable and ethical design is also evident where designers are not only working with environmentally friendly material and production methods but also creating furnishings that are made to be durable and retain their value over a long period of time.
The book further explores how designers are focusing more on process-driven and storytelling concepts to create furniture systems that are flexible, crafted in a collage-like manner or even decorative objects that serve as interior installations. A continuing flirtation with organic forms can also be seen with pioneering examples of material and technological experimentation, many of which are characterised by an unrestrained, playful attitude with an ironic exuberance.
Once Upon a Chair: Design Beyond the Icon Published by Gestalten, Foreword by Andrej Kupetz, Managing Director of the German Design Council, Edited by, R. Klanten,
S. Ehmann, A. Kupetz, S. Moreno, Hardback: 22.7 x 28.1 cm, 272 pages, Full Colour,
Buy it here: Amazon
When Ray and Charles Eames arrived in Los Angeles in 1941, they turned a spare room in their apartment into a workshop to experiment with molded plywood forms with the goal of mass producing furniture. During the war, they began making molded plywood splints for the U.S. Navy. This combination of experience and experimentation led to the design many well-known chairs, including the DCM Chair and the LCW Chair (Low Chair Wood). Sometime in the early 1950s Charles and Ray decided to go ahead with developing an upholstered super-comfortable lounge chair, like those found in men’s clubs. Charles Eames says that “the motivation behind most of the things we’ve done was either that we wanted them ourselves, or we wanted to give them to someone else, and the way to make that practical is to have that gift manufactured… the lounge chair for example, was really done as a present for a friend, Billy Wilder, and has since been reproduced.”
The Lounge Chair has since been in continuous production by Herman Miller and Vitra. Its rosewood veneer and black leather upholstery became a status symbol ”…and during the last decade or so, newspapers and magazine stories have depicted the Eames Chair as the throne of choice for movie moguls and other powerful businessmen who seek to project and air of informal, but total control.” The chair evolved to become the height of luxury and comfort and one of the most important design icons of the 20th century.
The book examines the designs of Ray and Charles Eames and with lavish photographs and illustrations, documents the evolution of the Lounge Chair and places it in its cultural, historical and social context. It also includes insightful interviews of people involved in making the Lounge Chair and observations on its transformation into a Modernist icon.
Charles Eames was often asked to “explain” the Chair. One of his most quoted lines was that he wanted it to have “the warm receptive look of a well-worn first baseman’s mitt. Anyone who has owned the Lounge Chair will tell you — it gets better with age.
The Eames Lounge Chair: An Icon of Modern Design, by Pat Kirkham, Thomas Hine, David Hanks, Martin Eidelberg, Hardcover, Dimensions: 25 x 25 cm, Pages: 192
Published by, BIS Publishers
Buy it here: Amazon
Sources are eclectic, results mixed, but one thing is certain: car design is being forced up an ever tightening spiral of creativity. These machines are memorials of our tastes, yearnings and capabilities. They have layers of meaning and can, as Henry Ford knew, be read like a book…if only you know how. The story of the car is the story of how the objects of industry became a medium of artistic expression. This book tells that story in a series of case studies which reveal national characteristics: American flair, German technical suprematism, French vernacular chic, gorgeous Italian sculpture, English antiquarianism, Japanese ingenuity, Swedish responsibility. Cars featured appear in chronological date order from the 1908 Ford Model T to 2003 BMW 5 Series. The chosen cars will be specially photographed in a uniform style and reproduced in very textured, 4 colour b/w so as to distance this book from the cliches and conventions of specialist automotive publishing and to highlight form and shape. Each picture will be accompanied by a short critical essay including essential historical material together with colourful anecdotage and quotations as well as a persuasive aesthetic appraisal of each vehicle. This lavish and beautifully designed book is the gift book for all car enthusiasts and design aficionados.
Cars: Freedom, Style, Sex, Power, Motion, Colour, Everything, by Stephen Bayley, Hardcover, 384 Pages.
Buy it here: Amazon