A blend of traditional lounge club style with contemporary materials and innovative manufacturing made the Eames Lounge Chair a timeless classic.

Charles and Ray Eames’ Lounge Chair, designed for Herman Miller in 1956, used a moulded plywood technique developed by the pair. Distribution rights in Europe and the Middle East are now held by Vitra

The Eames Lounge Chair: how a design classic was made | News

Charles and Ray Eames’ Lounge Chair, designed for Herman Miller in 1956, used a moulded plywood technique developed by the pair. Distribution rights in Europe and the Middle East are now held by Vitra

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Timeless.

Possibly one of the most over-used words in designer diction, timeless objects are those that span across lifetimes, comfortably sitting in any period you choose to (re)create. But while certain materials, lines, patterns and textures can connect new products to past times, only a select few have real, proven lastability.

With a legacy that changes the course of design history and breaches popular culture by transcending the design realm, these iconic forms continue to inspire to this day. The first design classic worthy of focus, is a product so well-known, that we need only two words to introduce it: the Eames Lounge Chair.

Charles and Ray Eames designed and created many types of products from furniture, architecture, toys and textiles to films, artworks and rehabilitation products for the war effort. Photo: Eames Office

The Eames Lounge Chair: how a design classic was made | News

Charles and Ray Eames designed and created many types of products from furniture, architecture, toys and textiles to films, artworks and rehabilitation products for the war effort. Photo: Eames Office

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Who were Charles and Ray Eames?

Mid-century creative power couple, Charles and Ray Eames met while working on a design project at the Cranbrook Academy of Art in Michigan in 1940. Him an architect and industrial designer and her an artist and graphic designer, the pair went on to create many lasting and still contemporary designs including the iconic Lounge Chair.

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Some of the designers’ first commercial moulded plywood products included the Eames Elephant (top) and the Lounge Chair Wood (middle). The Eames Lounge Chair (bottom) itself came later

The Eames Lounge Chair: how a design classic was made | News

Some of the designers’ first commercial moulded plywood products included the Eames Elephant (top) and the Lounge Chair Wood (middle). The Eames Lounge Chair (bottom) itself came later

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The Eames Lounge Chair

Although released later on in Charles and Ray Eames’ reign in 1956, the development of the Eames Lounge Chair started long before that. With the product design partnership still in its infancy in the early 40s, the pair started to develop the moulded process that became a key contributor to the success and accessibility of the Eames catalogue. Shortly after one of the team’s first commercial products to use the technique was born – the still iconic Eames Elephant – came the Lounge Chair Wood (LCW).


Sit at the top of iconic furniture design for nearly 70 years and you’re bound to make some waves


LCW’s moulded plywood production process meant the single-material seat could be shaped around users’ bodies and how they actually sit, making it a ground-breaking innovation and leading Time magazine to name LCW as its ‘Chair of the Century’.

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Poltrana Frau’s 1919 club armchair (top) and the Eames Lounge Chair at Hide Out house in LA (middle) and Unltd house in Belarus (bottom). Photos: Brandon Shigeta (middle), Nordes Design Group (bottom)

The Eames Lounge Chair: how a design classic was made | News

Poltrana Frau’s 1919 club armchair (top) and the Eames Lounge Chair at Hide Out house in LA (middle) and Unltd house in Belarus (bottom). Photos: Brandon Shigeta (middle), Nordes Design Group (bottom)

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Joining the club: design inspiration

Inspired by the rich materials and the deep, surrounding comfort of an English club armchair – itself a lasting style that’s remained consistently popular for the last century or more, as evidenced by Poltrana Frau’s 1919 armchair to name just one – the Eames’ decided to create a more contemporary version with an extremely simple double pairing of forms – the chair’s back and headrest, and seat and ottoman are the exact same dimensions – fixed together at the perfect angles to create its iconic shape.


The Eames Lounge Chair’s back and headrest, and seat and ottoman are the exact same dimensions


With this simple arrangement and exposed frame, the chair sits comfortably and confidently when positioned by itself, allowing users to lose themselves in the written word, a beloved record or to gaze out at the world. The Hide Out home in Los Angeles, for example, where the chair sits between a library and wide-framed windows, is a perfect example of how its classical design elements complement even the most contemporary interiors, while at the Unltd house in Borovlyany, Belarus, the chair is joined by other curated mid-century furniture of fine leather and moulded plywood, seamlessly alongside a contemporary kitchen space.

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Boss Design’s Kruze Meeting (top) and BD Barcelona’s Lounger (middle) chairs both use moulded plywood to form their seat shells, while Désirée’s Kara chair (bottom) has a laidback form

The Eames Lounge Chair: how a design classic was made | News

Boss Design’s Kruze Meeting (top) and BD Barcelona’s Lounger (middle) chairs both use moulded plywood to form their seat shells, while Désirée’s Kara chair (bottom) has a laidback form

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Legacy of design

Sit at the top of iconic furniture design for nearly 70 years, however, and you’re bound to make some waves, with modern furniture catalogues awash with Eames-inspired design. Chairs like Kruze Meeting by Boss Design with its walnut shell and winged leather interior or BD Barcelona’s Lounger with decorative metal buttons that ‘hold’ its seat and back together both feature the moulded plywood technique that came to define the Eames Lounge Chair’s look, while Désirée’s Kara chair and ottoman also mimics the Eames Lounge Chair’s comfortable, confident pitch.

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Ornäs’ Siesta chair combines traditional with more contemporary style, while Minotti’s Prince Cord Outdoor chair and footstool take the laidback form outside

The Eames Lounge Chair: how a design classic was made | News

Ornäs’ Siesta chair combines traditional with more contemporary style, while Minotti’s Prince Cord Outdoor chair and footstool take the laidback form outside

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OrnäsSiesta chair, meanwhile, exemplifies how traditional club chair button-tufting and pronounced wings combine with a mid-century frame and legs for a timeless, multi-era style. Elsewhere, Minotti’s Prince Cord Outdoor chair shows how, in its laidback stance, enclosing armrests and paired, padded footstool, new material technologies have allowed the Eames Lounge Chair’s influence to move to outdoor environments, too.

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