Charles Ormond Eames and his wife, Bernice Alexandra “Ray” Eames were American designers who made significant historical contributions to the development of modern architecture and furniture, including the design of the iconic Eames Lounge Chair and Ottoman. The couple designed these pieces for the most prolific and influential producer and manufacturer of furniture in the modernist style, Herman Miller.
Charles and Ray sought to improve upon a familiar fixture in most living rooms, the lounge chair. Inspired by the English club chair, the husband and wife team wanted to create a modern version, one that, “had the warm receptive look of a well-used first baseman’s mitt” and “brought welcoming comfort to the body.”
The Eames’ work was a manifestation of one broad, all-encompassing goal: to positively impact people’s lives and environments. Whether offering a comfortable chair to sit in or the tools to obtain knowledge, they tried to “. . . get everybody to think in a more analytic and open way about how things might be different in their lives,” says former staff member Jehane Burns.
Released in 1956 after years of development, the chair debuted on NBC’s Home show, hosted by Arlene Francis. The national television show appearance brought instant fame to the chair and to Charles and Ray Eames.
For the first ten years of production, Herman Miller offered the chair in leather, fabric, or naugahyde, but Charles and Ray insisted the company add a note to the catalog recommending the premium “best aucht” leather. The couple sourced it from Scotland because farmers there didn’t use barbed wire; this resulted in unmarked leather of a highly-refined quality.
The Eames chair and ottoman has been in continuous production since its1956 release; throughout the 60+ years of production, the chair and ottoman’s design has stayed consistent, allowing owners to get replacement parts from Herman Miller, regardless of the age of the chair.
The pieces are made from molded plywood and leather with three curved plywood shells: 1) headrest, 2) backrest, 3) seat. During early production (1956-1990s), the shells were made of five thin layers of plywood, covered with Brazilian Rosewood veneer. The Rosewood was discontinued in the 90’s and current production has seven layers of plywood with finishing veneers in cherry, walnut, Palisander Rosewood and others. The layers are glued together and shaped under heat and pressure.
The epitome of iconic design, the Eames chair is recognized everywhere and is part of the permanent collection in more than 20 major museums throughout the US and Europe including New York’s MoMA and the Art Institute of Chicago. Too, it has been the subject of documentary films, books and the sole subject of museums shows at the Museum of Arts and Design in New York. It has been featured in prominent televisions shows and movies (House, Frasier, Archer, Gossip Girl, Iron Man, Sunday in New York, Click, The Ghost Rider, Hope Springs and Closer).
The Eames chair and ottoman are available at HermanMiller.com. Pricing begins at $4,960 and varies depending on veneer finish and leather.
32.75” W x 32” H x 32.75” D (15” seat height)
32.75” W x 34.25” H x 34.5” D (15.25” seat height)
26” W x 21.5” D x 17.25” H (same for both Classic and Tall chair sizes)
Veneer Finish Options:
Oiled Walnut (+$929)
Santos Palisander (+$950)
Oiled Santos Palisander (+$1,999)
Pearl MCL Leather (+$230)
Ivory MCL Leather (+230)
Stone MCL Leather (+$230)
Red MCL Leather (+$230)
Espresso MCL Leather (+$230)
Black MCL Leather (+$230)