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
Since it won the prestigious Compasso d’Oro award assigned in 1960 no table clock has ever equalled its originality and functionality. With its ingenious design, which was created by the then very young designer Richard Sapper, Static always finds the correct angle however it is placed. The barely visible support area also creates the impression that the clock is somehow suspended.
Static Table Clock, by Richard Sapper, for Lorenz
The Bantam Special was a glorious exception to Kodak’s generally consumer-oriented camera lines. Styled by famous industrial designer Walter Dorwin Teague in 1936, the Bantam Special is one of the finest examples of art-deco styling applied to any camera design. The Bantam Special had a 1937 list price of $110.00, targeting the affluent and fashionable set.
Walter Dorwin Teague was an American industrial designer and writer. In New York a group of individuals including Teague, Norman Bel Geddes, Raymond Loewy and Henry Dreyfuss began to establish industrial design as an independent occupation, promoted by the foundation of the American Union of Decorative Artists and Craftsmen in 1927. Later, in 1944, the Society of Industrial Designers was founded with Teague as its first President.
Kodak Bantam Special, by Walter Dorwin Teague for Kodak
Arne Jacobsen designed this chair over a five-year period. Large, impressive, and extremely comfortable, when it was presented in 1966 it was met with surprise and admiration. “This is also how he can be: angular and with a touch of martial temperament that we could call Germanic or perhaps more properly Japanese in expression”
- Thau and Vindum, eds., Jacobsen.
Arne Jacobsen trained and practiced as an architect, and his evolution as a designer of furniture and objects was the consequence of his desire to achieve a complete harmony within his architectural projects. The range of his ideas is well-defined by two major projects in Copenhagen, those for the SAS Building (1955-1960), a hotel and air terminal, and for the National Bank of Denmark (1961-1971). The buildings reveal an evolution from the International Style minimalism of the SAS Building to a more expressive use of form in the National Bank. Here is the range of Jacobsen the designer, by instinct restrained, yet understanding the need to give character to his creations and ready to be a little playful, as with the anthropomorphic hints in his chair names.
Ox Chair, 1967, DKK 180,000.- (USD 33,000), by Arne Jacobsen, for Fritz Hansen
Available at Møbel Arkitekten
Geatano Pesce’s iconic Up lounge chair, designed in the 1960s it is now celebrating its 40th birthday. In honour of this event B&B Italia is making UP available in a new metalic silver upholstery, and in a numbered edition.
UP5 UP6 Silver, by Geatano Pesce, for B&B Italia
Before the mid-1950s, vacuum cleaners weren’t in many Japanese homes because dusters, brooms, and floor cloths were considered adequate for cleaning traditional Japanese homes. But through extensive marketing efforts by manufacturers, Japanese-made vacuum cleaners gradually became household necessities by the 1960s – with the MC-1000 top of the list.
MC-1000, by Panasonic, 1965, Part a selection from the Panasonic Design Museum
Knotted Chair was featured in the 1996 exhibition “Contemporary Design from the Netherlands” curated by Paola Antonelli at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, was presented in Milan in 1996 as part of the “Dry Tech” project initiated by Droog Design of the Netherlands and carried out in cooperation with the Aviation and Space Laboratory of Delft Technical University. Made from a macrame of carbon fibers and epoxy-coated aramid fibers, this chair is now part of the permanent collection of the Museum of Modern Art, New York.
Knotted Chair, 1996, by Marcel Wanders, for Cappellini
Each piece is designed by Josef Hartwig to reflect the moves that it can make in the game. This Bauhaus product is a fine example of collaboration between the different workshops: Heinz Nosselt produced the corresponding chess table in the joinery workshop, while Joost Schmidt designed the accompanying promotional leaflet and posters. This example is from the developmental period of the Bauhaus chess set. It is the penultimate version to the one produced in Dessau.
Chess set, by Josef Hartwig, 1924, Beech Stained Natural or Black for Workshop for sculpture, Bauhaus Weimar
Interior Design has posted an article “Brains and Braun” by Larry Weinberg looking at influential product designs produced by Braun from the 50s and ’60s.
“order rather than confusion, quiet rather than loud, unobtrusive rather than exciting, sparse rather than profuse, and well-balanced rather than exalted.”
- Dieter Rams
Images: (top) T1000 World Receiver, 1963, (middle) Record player PS 45, (bottom) Pocket radio T-41, all by Dieter Rams, for Braun
Many objects are beautiful; and many creations are functional. But only few achieve enduring status. Designed by Bauhaus founder Walter Gropius in 1969, the Tac tea service is probably the most beautiful tea service ever produced.
“Our guiding principle was that design is neither an intellectual nor a material affair, but simply an integral part of the stuff of life, necessary for everyone in a civilized society.”
- Walter Gropius
Tac Tea Pot, by Walter Gropius, (1883-1969) for Rosenthal