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Eames Molded Plywood Chairs

Product Story

Designers Charles and Ray Eames established their long and legendary relationship with Herman Miller in 1946 with their boldly original molded plywood chairs. The aesthetic integrity, enduring charm, and comfort of the chairs earned them recognition from Time magazine as The Best Design of the 20th Century. Time called the design "something elegant, light and comfortable. Much copied but never bettered." (A locomotive came in second.)

Distinctive Design

You can tell it's Eames at a glance. Lounge chair, dining chair. Both with wood or chrome-plated steel legs. Molding thin sheets of lightweight veneer into gently curved shapes gives the durable material a soft, inviting appearance. The chairs work just about anywhere—from homes and offices to schools and public areas.

The chairs are offered with richly grained birch veneer in bright colors that recall the times when the chairs were introduced. The environmentally friendly aniline stains we use allow the wood's natural characteristics to show through. You can also have them in natural cherry, walnut, and light ash.

A Shape that Sits Well

In their search for a better way, Charles and Ray Eames developed an innovative technique for molding plywood. The process allowed them to bend wood furniture in new directions and give hard materials a soft look.

The contours the molding process creates out of plywood fit the body's shape. The plywood has five plies, with hardwood inner plies. Natural rubber shock mounts absorb movement.

Expanded Materials and Options

We’ve updated the existing finishes and added new material options to restore the original character of this timeless classic. The Eames Molded Plywood chair is now available in multiple upholstered fabric options and two new base finish options—a sophisticated black matte and an environmentally friendlier trivalent chrome.

More choice means you are able to curate complete environments and yet still provide the same high level of quality and workmanship, regardless of the choices you make.

Design Story

The story behind the Eames molded plywood chairs makes clear just how big a role imagination and serendipity play in design. In the early 1940s, when Charles Eames was working on MGM set designs, he and his wife, Ray, were experimenting with wood-molding techniques that would have profound effects on the design world. Their discoveries led to a commission from the US Navy to develop plywood splints, stretchers, and glider shells, molded under heat and pressure, that were used successfully in World War II.

When the war was over, Charles and Ray applied the technology they had created to making affordable, high-quality chairs that could be mass-produced using dimensionally shaped surfaces instead of cushioned upholstery. When they found that plywood did not withstand the stresses that occurred where the chair seat and back met, they abandoned their original single-shell idea in favor of a chair that had separate molded-plywood panels for the back and seat.

The process eliminated the extraneous wood needed to connect the seat with the back, which reduced the weight and visual profile of the chair and established a basis for modern furniture design. Sculpting a seat and back to fit the contours of the human body, they designed a truly comfortable chair that's suitable for businesses and homes.

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