“The finish of the castings” Posted October 20, 2014 by Daniel Ostroff

For the script of their film, ECS (Eames Compact Storage) Charles and Ray wrote one of their most famous lines.

“The details are not details—they make the product, just like details make the architecture—the gauge of the wire, the selection of the wood, the finish of the castings.”

For their chairs, Charles and Ray designed several solid cast aluminum parts, and we herald them here.

Check out the small parts in the images below, and then see if you can spot them on the chairs for which they were first designed.


Two of these are turning knobs, and one is a carefully milled cap for the second iteration of the Eames chair tilt mechanism, the one still used today on Eames chairs that tilt.


First, look at the 1953 Eames DAT-1, introduced at a time before the Eames Office designed a cast aluminum knob.


In the image below, note the standard issue stamped metal knob, which is used to apply or reduce pressure in tilting the chair.


With the 1958 introduction of the Eames Aluminum Group Chairwe see the first Eames cast aluminum knob, which is used as the adjusting mechanism for the tilt-swivel lounge chair.


See the underside of the chair to get a better view of the Eames cast aluminum knob.


In 1960, when the DAT-1 was updated, we see the first Eames Office-designed egg-shaped, solid cast aluminum knob.


Again, the detail is more apparent on the underside.


It’s a very considerate detail!

When the Eames Office changed the tilt mechanism they added a milled solid aluminum end cap and this was first seen on the Eames Soft Pad Group in 1969, but they continued to use the solid cast round knob.


Speaking of details, I love how the Eames Office came up with such a simple way to adjust the range of the tilt– they devised a simple piece of bent steel, to which the knob is applied.

The image below offers a great view of the bent steel piece–very simple, very straightforward–into which the aluminum knob is threaded.  The finishing cap is also visible.  It has a small hole that takes a hexagonal screw to keep it in place.






















Here is an image of the underside.



The lovely tan leather upholstery on this chair is original, as are all of its parts.  A bank used this chair from 1971, the year it was purchased, until the furnishings of the bank were sold in 2011.

This example illustrates another essential detail–in Charles and Ray’s day and for the Eames Office today– the sum of the parts result in meaningful, quality products and provide years of service and performance to the users.  In some ways, this chair looks better after forty plus years of use.

You will find some of these details on the new Eames chairs you buy today.

All photos © Eames Office LLC.  Please contact permissions@eamesoffice.com for reproduction rights, or see our Permissions Page.