DATE - 1961

Generally speaking, the Eames Contract Storage (ECS) is a system of storage, study, and sleeping units. Its key features included a minimum space requirement, flexible arrangement, and it qualified for long-term government financing, because it was so well constructed that it could be considered as a capital improvement. That’s a very remarkable standard for furniture to meet. The whole system is wall-mounted, which provided two benefits: It makes it free from the ceiling and floor, which facilitates ease of cleaning and it leads to effective sanitation as a result of the ventilation.

Eames Contract Storage

At Herman Miller, designers were focused on furniture for the home, and to some extent, for offices. But the real push concerning office furniture had to do with the company embracing the growing post-war marketplace for contract furniture. Contract furniture is strong enough for regular daily use in environments where users can be hard on furniture, like schools, restaurants, and auditoriums. Charles and Ray Eames were called upon to address another contract purpose: furnishings for college dormitories. The Eames Contract Storage.

Charles and Ray devised beds that folded down for sleeping and up into their system wall in the daytime to provide more floor space. Additionally, it had a study center, with built-in lighting, a desktop with scratch and burn resistant hard plastic, shelves, drawers, a file basket, and a cork bulletin board. Thus, even rooms with more than one bed could allow an individual student workspace without disturbing others. The ECS units are beautiful, with expanses of premium face veneer on the surfaces. The metal parts are solid cast, and the wire shelves and vertical dividers are coated in rubber for added durability.

The system was designed so that one could complete all of the furnishings for the room before installation. As with most Eames designs, any modifications and replacements are simple and easy to install and required no special tools nor skills. There’s a savings on shipping costs because the pre-fabricated units were shipped knocked down, in other words, flat pack.

As successful as they were in designing an effective solution for student dorm rooms, the Eameses and Herman Miller were a little too late for this market. The introduction of the Eames Contract Storage system coincided with a declining interest for students to live in dorms. With demand reduced, the ECS was only in production for a few years.

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