When Nancy, my spouse, and I were married, seventeen years ago, we asked that any gifts be donations to community non-profits.
A few friends gave us presents anyway. Ben is an architect and former Herman Miller salesperson. (He and Nancy worked together at Herman Miller in the late 1980’s.) Ben’s carefully wrapped package was large, long, and narrow. It wasn’t a blender. It was an Eames plywood leg splint.
Charles and Ray Eames developed the splint for the Navy during World War II. It was the first application of a wood molding technology that the Eameses pioneered. It led to numerous Herman Miller chairs, including the signature Eames molded plywood chair.
The splint is simple and functional, yet highly considered. It is a powerful statement concerning innovation and design. Ben, our friend, understood why Nancy and I admired and respected the Eameses. Their ideas challenge. Their ideals inspire. Ben knew that his wedding gift would have special significance.
Today, the plywood splint is an important part of our art collection. A strong and striking object, it is guaranteed to generate interest and discussion. What was created in the 1940’s to treat an injured leg continues to celebrate good design. It also evokes fond memories of what was, for Nancy and me, a happy and special day.