What an eggbeater and an Eames Table have in common Posted July 20, 2016 by Daniel Ostroff
In a 1949 issue of Consumer Reports, curator and designer Eliot Noyes highlighted the Eames Folding Leg Table in his article about good design in everyday objects.
Consumer Reports is a publication dedicated to “facts you need before you buy.” In January 1949, it included an article by Eliot Noyes titled, “The Shape of Things,” which examined 11 examples of “good design in everyday objects.” He made it clear that with one exception—an egg beater—the 11 objects featured had not been tested by Consumer Reports. He wrote: The “egg beater came out well, but that fact is not relevant here. In practice consumers must often choose between reality and utility when they buy. But Consumer Union‘s point is that it should be unnecessary to sacrifice good appearance for sound construction. The purpose of ‘The Shape of Things’ is to draw attention to this consumer’s dilemma and to stimulate interest in its solution.
“The objects illustrated have in common a satisfying consistency of design. . . . On none is there arbitrarily applied decoration; no roses entwine the handles of the flatware, no chromium speedwhiskers tickle the sides of the flashlight.” Echoing the Eames philosophy regarding the honest use of materials, the author noted: “Nor have materials been made to imitate each other.”
One item Noyes highlighted in the article was the Eames Folding Leg Table that had been introduced earlier that year. He wrote: “These tables are light in weight and appearance but surprisingly strong and steady.” The Eames design proved to be practical for an additional reason as well. The legs folded up and could be secured flat against the underside of the top with a simple canvas strap, which made it easy to store in small living spaces. The Eames Folding Leg Table was one of the first “flat pack” tables in history, an innovation that led to reduced shipping costs.
Noyes noted that, one key aspect of all 11 products featured, was that “The design distinctiveness of each object grows out of its own nature.” This is the hallmark of all Eames designs.