WHY celebrates 64 Years of the Shell Chair in images with #shellspotting.
Written by: The Editors
Arguably one of the 20th century’s most beloved designs, the Eames Shell Chair has wormed its way into our collective consciousness to become both a coveted piece of design history and, quite simply, a beautiful, accessible design that is exemplary of the Eameses’ desire to make “the best for the most for the least.” Borne out of Charles’ early investigations into molding plywood at Cranbrook Academy with Eero Saarinen in the late ’40s, and continued with Ray and the Eames Office in Venice, California, the Shell Chair was designed on the principle of adaptability, so that it could fit every body and any context—a chair that would be equally at home in a a museum, living room, or the laundromat around the corner. WHY is celebrating the Shell Chair’s endless appeal by sharing stories and images from some of the our biggest fans and ardent collectors (click on the interactive image array above). Stay tuned as we post stories each week and spread the Eames love with #shellspotting.
Today’s #shellspotting comes from Eames and Llisa Demetrios, Charles and Ray’s grandchildren, and their mother, Lucia. It was shot last year, at her home in northern California. Eames explains:
“This isn’t just a picture of someone sitting in a beautiful Eames Shell chair; this picture is actually part of the story. Charles and Ray Eames always said that design is a method of action—a constant, dynamic process. They also said that the role of the designer is basically that of a good host, anticipating the needs of his guest. They asked that when they died, their family would assume responsibility for ensuring that not only the integrity of their products remain intact, but also their unique approach to design. I am one of five grandchildren in my generation doing this work now, and championing my grandparent’s legacy has been a great (in every sense of the word) responsibility. We’ve learned a lot from Charles and Ray, and also from our mother, Lucia (Charles’ daughter). My mom grew up during the time Charles and Ray were exploring molding wood in ’40s, and so our family was deeply involved in the slow, patient development of the Molded Wood Shell Chair, which http://instagram.com/HermanMiller released late last year. When the design was complete, I was 100% convinced, but we wanted more. We asked Herman Miller to box up a chair and send it to our mom—without warning. For 12 hours, a billion dollar company awaited her response, to see if it would, in fact, have an approved product to sell after all the time and effort. My sister Llisa waited with our mom, camera ready. Needless to say, she loved it, and the project moved forward. We’re pretty proud of our role here at the @eamesoffice because there is an art and science in the decisions made to keep Eames products alive and well, just as they wished. It is the only way to truly honor their legacy.”
February 24th, 2014
Today’s #shellspotting comes from Eames super fans @vanityvintage, a graphic design duo living in Antwerp, Belgium. We were curious about anybody who’d take their vintage Shell Chair with them on vacation to Paris, so #WHYHM asked them to tell us a little more about their collection. Here’s what they had to say: “We have been passionate about interior design for years, and along the way, we caught the Eames bug. It started with the current editions, but as our addiction grew, we started to collect the original fiberglass chairs cause they are more valuable to us and have much more charm. We share Charles’ belief that ‘the details are not the details, they make the design.’”
February 18th, 2014
Today's #shellspotting story comes from Tim Smith (@thsnyc), who submitted a photo of his impeccably preserved, vintage #Eames LAR, accompanied by the remarkable story of its provenance. As he tells us: “This chair belonged to my grandparents, Charlotte and Ray O’Tool of Bay City, MI. My grandmother was a very stylish woman, always on top of every design trend. This chair in their home is one of my earliest memories of visits to grandma and grandpa. Perhaps, because it had a childlike scale, but also because it was unlike anything I was accustomed to. I believe it is the first design object that I ever coveted, and I let it be known to my grandmother whenever we visited. She always said that my name was on it for when she died and, needless to say, I inherited it from her (my name in masking tape on the bottom of it when they settled her affairs). This chair was the spark to a long passion for collecting (especially 20th-century modern design objects) that continues to this day. The designs of Eames, Nelson, Knoll were the everyday objects of my youth; we grew up together.”