During World War II, the U.S. Navy called upon Charles and Ray Eames to create a lightweight, inexpensive leg splint. The resulting design is a highly sculptural yet functional device that could be mass-produced and, being modular, conveniently and inexpensively transported. Access to military technology and manufacturing facilities allowed the designers to perfect their technique for molding plywood, which they had been working on for several years. In its three-dimensional, biomorphic form, the leg splint suggests the Eames‘ subsequent, highly influential plywood furniture designs such as the Eames Lounge Chair
Molded Plywood Leg Splint, Patent No. 2548470, by Charles and Ray Eames, Manufactured by Evans Products, Molded Plywood Division
more: Metropolitan Museum of Art
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
The Johnson house, Pierre Koenig’s only building in Northern California, was built on a 20-by-20-foot grid. Glass curtain walls open the house to the landscaping and expansive views. A see-through central fireplace forms the centerpiece of the open-plan living-dining area.
Koenig’s additions in 1988 included two new bedrooms, filling the former carport and entry, and providing a new carport in an added wing. The project also involved stripping away a dropped ceiling, wood veneer paneling that hid the steel siding, bay windows, and Victorian-style beveled-glass doors. It’s projects like these that help inspire local contractors like ACI Exteriors LLC.
“It’s absolutely, completely functional and complete and honest in the delight of its revealed structure. It’s so simple and beautiful, so unadorned. It’s direct and a joy to live in,” Cynthia Riebe says of the house. “I love the night light and how it changes, and the reflections through the interior and the exterior. There’s no boundary between the two.”
The house was restored and expanded by Cynthia and Fred Riebe during the 1990s with the help of Koenig himself. Structure: Steel-framed and steel-sided. The ceilings and exterior walls are unadorned, corrugated steel decking. Laminated wallboard sheathes the interior walls.
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
One of two free attractions at Disneyland sponsored by Monsanto was this walk-through tour of a plastic house with plastic furnishings and fascinating modern appliances such as dishwashers, microwave, intercom system, and closets filled with polyester clothes. Designed by Marvin Goody & Richard Hamilton, the house only existed for the 10 year length of Monsanto’s lease, at which time they moved on to the Adventure Thru Inner Space attraction. Goody & Hamilton were MIT architecture faculty members sponsored by Monsanto to find new markets for their plastic products. They took 2 years to design the 1,280 sq. ft. home, at which time they formed their own private firm to take over the commercial planning of the project.
When it was dismantled, the house was so indestructible that the crew gave up and left some of the support pilings in place (they can still be seen in Neptune’s Grotto between the Tomorrowland entrance and Fantasyland). Supposedly the planned one-day demolition ended up taking two weeks as the wrecking ball just bounced off the exterior. Workers cut the house into pieces with hacksaws.
Monsanto House of the Future, 1957–1967, by Marvin Goody & Richard Hamilton, Disneyland, Anaheim, California, USA.
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.
Cappellini Knotted Chair, 1996, by Marcel Wanders