Late last year the Herman Miller team attended Art Basel in Miami. We were the furniture sponsor for the event which meant all the restaurants and bar areas were awash in our designs. We also had a booth devoted entirely to Eames pieces that was graced with a drawing by Ray Eames.
The drawing was of the room that she and Charles designed for Alexander Girard’s “An Exhibition of Modern Living” (catalog below). The show was commissioned by the Detroit Institute of Arts in late 1949 and Ray’s drawing for their “room” depicts a wonderfully colorful space complete with totem-like sculpture, an Eames table and molded plywood chairs. It was also the first public glimpse of the Eames Storage Units which today find their way into many a home office.
Photo: Randall Ross / modernism101.com
Our booth for Art Basel was designed by Herman Miller Creative Directors Craig Bassam and Scott Fellows. “We wanted an artful graphic for our space and we loved the idea that Ray Eames created it as a collage to illustrate a display space,” says Bassam. “Our display booth was also done to show an important point of history for Herman Miller. It’s important to remember where these pieces we’ve used throughout Art Basel’s public spaces came from.”
Bassam also stressed the importance of showing art. “We were part of Art Basel so we also thought it important to show art which we feel is an important link to the artful background of Herman Miller. Showrooms and displays were well known for their use of art and combinations of objects. So, we just couldn’t have a dry corporate graphic!”
But there’s more to this image that initially meets the eye. “Note it was the first time the public would see the model of the Eames La Chaise, which Charles and Ray designed for MOMA’s Low Cost Furniture Competition,” says Daniel Ostroff, editor of EamesDesigns.com. ”If you look closely at the drawing the faintest outline of it is shown in the foreground, which is where it was actually placed in the exhibition room.” You can hear Ostroff talk about the La Chaise here.