The idea to create a lightweight, one-piece chair shell dates back to 1939. That's when Charles Eames and Eero Saarinen began experimenting with plywood chair shells at Cranbrook Academy. After Charles and Ray Kaiser married in 1941, the couple picked up these experiments at the Eames studio in Venice, California.
In 1948, Charles entered a stamped steel shell chair in the Museum of Modern Art’s International Competition for Low-Cost Furniture Design. It took second place, but the Eameses determined that steel could be cold and might rust over time. So they kept iterating. They reached out to a boat builder to create a fiberglass shell prototype. Then they began looking for a partner who could mass produce the shells. By 1950, Herman Miller had introduced the world to this endlessly versatile chair. Today it’s become a design icon.
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