Molded Plywood Chair Prototypes

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1942 – 1945

Shortly after their arrival in Los Angeles, the Eameses began to experiment in their apartment with molded, compound-curved plywood chair seats, continuing the work Charles had done with Eero Saarinen at Cranbrook for the 1940 Museum of Modern Art “Organic Design in Home Furnishings” competition.

After a series of experiments, the Eameses made a prototype chair seat.  They produced it through a laborious method of gluing together and heat bonding thin plies of wood in a device they built called the “Kazam! machine.

From the outset, the goal was to devise a system for mass-producing high-quality, low-cost furniture.  The molding experiments slowly evolved from the one-piece chair into a chair made of two separate but related forms that expressed the “organic,” curvilinear quality sought after by Saarinen and Charles in the 1940 competition. Not upholstered and unadorned, the chairs were pure expressions of the molding process.