Quintessentially Eames

“What works good is better than what looks good, because what works good lasts,” Ray Eames once said. In true Eames fashion, Eames Turned Stool does all three.

Ray at work with Eames Stool models in May 1960.

Ray Eames took a particular interest in the stool.
© 2023 Eames Office, LLC. All rights reserved.

Charles and Ray Eames designed what was originally called Eames Walnut Stool in 1960 as part of an overall design scheme for three lobbies in the newly constructed Time-Life Building at Rockefeller Center in New York—a commission done at the request of Henry Luce, then the chair of Time-Life. Ray took a particular interest in the diminutive but significant piece, which the Eames Office says was inspired by an African stool that stands in the living room of the Eames House in Los Angeles, one of many objects the couple had collected while traveling.

The design is quintessentially Eamesian in its systems approach. The ends are standard across all versions of the stool, while the midsection of each pedestal features a unique arrangement of curves and angles. The Eames Office originally proposed a number of shapes; Herman Miller commercialized three of them in 1960, alongside the Eames Executive Chair, a padded leather swivel chair that became known as the Time-Life Chair. In 2023, Herman Miller introduced a fourth Eames shape and renamed the stool Eames Turned Stool—a nod to the woodturning process used in manufacturing it.

Eames Stools rendered in plasticine were among the items on Ray’s worktable in May 1960.

The Eames Office used clay models to experiment with different shapes for what they called the “occasional stool.”
© 2023 Eames Office, LLC. All rights reserved.

Sketch of an Eames Stool, by Charles and Ray Eames.

One of several shapes the Eames Office envisioned for the stool.

“The role of the designer is that of a very good, thoughtful host, anticipating the needs of his guests.”

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Product Designers Ray and Charles Eames