Eames ETR–a coffee table you can transport in your convertible Posted December 15, 2020 by Daniel Ostroff
Charles and Ray Eames considered many factors when they designed products. One of the most interesting examples of their commitment to thinking about every aspect of how their designs would be used is the ETR, the elliptical coffee table.
Friends of Charles and Ray have suggested that they may have gotten the idea of the shape of the ETR from visits to the beach near their home in the Pacific Palisades. After all, they lived close to the surf culture of Santa Monica, and the ETR top does resemble a surfboard.
But it minimizes the significance of this table to simply regard it for its appearance. The ETR is another example of the Eames “systems” approach to furniture. By taking a “systems” approach, Charles and Ray made goods available at lower prices; the standardized parts of each system means savings in manufacturing—savings which are passed along to the consumer. The ETR base is the same base as Charles and Ray designed for the LTR, a much smaller table.
In this vintage Herman Miller catalog schematic, you can see the relationship between the two Eames tables.
Long really means long in the case of the ETR. It clocks in at a whopping 89 1/4 inches. That’s almost 7 and 1/2 feet long, long enough that famed basketball star Yao Ming (7 feet, 4 inches) could lay down on it. It will hold a lot of books and vases of flowers, or an NBA player looking for a place to rest. But because it’s just under 30 inches wide, it doesn’t overwhelm a room. Yet, and here’s the beautiful part: it weighs only 45 pounds. That’s about the same as an average five-year-old child weighs or two high chairs for said child.
It’s radius edges mean that it’s less likely that you’ll bang your shins on it than you might on a right-angled table. And, as you can see in the pictures below, if and when necessary, you can take it across town in your convertible.
One day in the early 1960s, Eames Office staff member Deborah Sussman (dressed in red) and an as-of-yet-unidentified helper, were asked to take an ETR to the Herman Miller showroom across town. That Deborah was driving a tiny 1959 Austin Healey didn’t pose a problem, because the ultra-long ETR is lightweight yet sturdy.