ESU 420-C

Product Specs

Period of Time:
Herman Miller

General Dimensions:

H: 59 1/2''

W: 47''

D: 16''

ESU 420-C

White glass cloth laminate sliding doors, solid wood dove-tail joint drawers,
“colorful” lacqured finish on the masonite panels.

Eames Storage Units were introduced in 1952. This is a second generation storage unit, produced in 1953. From the first Herman Miller ESU catalogue: “The storage units by Charles Eames represent a frank and forthright answer to a permanent and basic furinture need: attractive, durable cabinets, cases and desks that are modestly priced. Plated steel uprights support plastic-coated plywood shelves and stain resistant wood or plastic covered tops. Crossed metal struts or lacqured masonite panels insure stability. The units come in two widths– 24″ and 47″ (THIS EXAMPLE) — and in three heights: 20″, 32 1/2″, and 59 1/2″ (THIS EXAMPLE). All are 16″ deep. There are numerous arrangements including open shelves, sliding panel doors and drawers, in a variety of color combinations. In its entirety, it is a fluid, comprehensive system that should answer most storage requirements.” ESUs were available in “neutral” or “colorful” finish.
In his landmark book, STORAGE, George Nelson wrote: “These cases, designed by Charles Eames, were the first storage furinture in production which used steel angles as an exposed structural frame. In their use of regularly perforated upright members, they relate directly to steel warehouse shelving…Like all of Eames’ furniture it is a statement and an important one. In essence it says that there is no longer any need for total reliance upon craft methods for the production of furniture, and it goes farther in asserting that the “nuts and bolts” vocabulary, formerly considered suitable for application only in an industrial context, had its own esthetic and as such was just as appropriately seen in the domestic interior as anywhere else.”
Elsewhere in this Catalogue we examine examples of first generation ESUs. Here it is interesting to note what George Nelson said about examples such as this one, the second generation ESUs. “Like other industrial prototypes, these first units developed some “bugs” when put into use, and also, having completed the group, the designer found he had a number of new ideas which seemed worth incorporating. Changes visible in the second version of the Eames storage units include a stronger frame (with fewer perforations), separate leg supports (the earlier light-gauge angles occasionally buckled when mishandled in shipping) and box-jointed drawers with knobs for pulls.”
J.F. Chen Collection
This unit is on display at The Getty/Pacific Standard Time participating gallery exhibition: COLLECTING EAMES. In Additional Notes you can watch a video about this ESU 420-C and another ESU also in our Catalog