From the earliest records of history, the use of a chair was reserved only for members of royalty or nobility, making it a status symbol for several millennia. It was only during the 16th century did its symbolism and appearance change dramatically. The chair had become more affordable and available for a greater number of people. Over the next few centuries, with the advancement of technology and discovery of new materials, chairs had also become more comfortable and durable. During these times, it had also become important to recognize the designer as well as the piece. Recognizing the efforts of these designers and their work is important in order to progress and design better chairs for the users. The designers Charles and Ray Eames have helped shape the field of modern furniture design with their piece the Eames Chair.
The Eames Chair was designed by Charles and Ray Eames for the furniture company Herman Miller. Along with its own ottoman, this collection of contemporary furniture was first released in the year 1956. Although the couple had created other pieces of modern furniture, this was their most monumental work and the only one made for the high end market.
Referring to it simply as a piece of modern classic furniture would be an understatement. There is a great following to this particular collection itself, finding its way to numerous homes and offices, even in books, films and documentaries. It is one of the few that has become an icon and easily recognizable; a timeless piece that has lasted decades after it was first produced.
Earlier models of the Eames Chair were produced using leather and veneered pieces of Brazilian rosewood with five levels of plywood. However, beginning in the 1980s, the trees from which the rosewood was taken from had become endangered. The use of veneered rosewood was then discontinued and replaced by wood veneer. As technologies progressed, other minor changes were made during the years which included the spacers, washers and even the zippers. Original versions of the chair are now being sought after by collectors, each piece costing thousands of dollars.
Even with the hefty price of this modern classic furniture, it was recognized for several reasons. Its design and construction was unlike no other during its time. There was a separate piece for each functional part: a distinct headrest, backrest, the seat itself as well as the supporting joints for the back, seat and other parts. Unlike other high end products during its time, the Eames Chair was striking, functional and comfortable. These characteristics made it an essential piece in the modern home and office, which still continues even to this today.
Today’s generation of contemporary furniture still pay tribute to the Eames’ design. One can easily find direct knock offs, reproductions or furniture inspired by the design of this modern classic furniture piece. Its beauty, functionality and comfort in use make it a desired piece whether it is in the home or an office setting. The Eames Chair is a timeless piece of design that has lasted for several decades and will continue to last for several more generations to come.