Eames Lounge Chair is “Cared for” Posted March 15, 2016 by Daniel Ostroff

For many people, the Eames Lounge Chair and Ottoman is the ultimate chair. We can learn about some of the efforts that went into its design as described by Ray in a hand-written note to Charles.

There are many drawings, notes, and details on the design process for the Lounge Chair and Ottoman in the Eames archives at the Library of Congress. The one above was written by Ray and mailed to Charles while he was on a trip to Paris. Charles thought it important enough that he saved it and carried it home.

Ray describes the work she is doing with the assistance of Alexander Girard, and Eames Office model maker, Don Albinson. She reports that they have changed the angle of the arms: “…tilting arms back calms and makes it look like a chair.” Ray’s letter references the iterative aspect of the Eames design process. After trying many models for the back connections, she has settled on “two thin cast triangular” shaped pieces of metal for the braces that support the back panels.

Her words about the process are evocative: “Trim, neat, un-designy but cared for rather than hunks or straps and relation but no conflict with base.”

One year after the date of this note, the Eames Lounge Chair and Ottoman (670/671) was introduced with great fanfare on primetime national television when Charles and Ray Eames were guests on NBC’s Home show hosted by Arlene Francis. The design has been a popular success ever since. Today, it is made by Vitra for our customers in Europe and the Middle East and by Herman Miller in the United States and the rest of the world.

When you review Ray’s sketches, you see the details developed that are now on every production model. As Gregory Ain (Chief Engineer for Charles and Ray Eames from 1943 to 1945) said: “Ray was able to bring things into relation with one another,” and to “find the inner order in whatever she touched.”

Eames Lounge Chair_Diptych

See this letter and more about the Eames Lounge Chair and Ottoman in An Eames Anthology.