DATE - 1948

Charles and Ray designed this lounge chair for The Museum of Modern Art’s 1948 “International Competition for Low-Cost Furniture Design.” Its name references both its function as well as Gaston Lachaise’s Floating Figure sculpture, whose shape the Eameses thought would fit the chair perfectly. 

Eames La Chaise

The Eames La Chaise was designed In 1948, when The Museum of Modern Art and a group of American retailers and manufacturers organized and sponsored the “International Competition for Low-Cost Furniture Design.” The urgent postwar demand for low-cost housing and furnishing designs motivated the competition. The organizers explained that the purpose was: “To serve the needs of the vast majority of people we must have furniture that is adaptable to small apartments and houses, furniture that is well-designed yet moderate in price, that is comfortable but not bulky, and that can be easily moved, stored, and cared for; in other words, mass-produced furniture that is planned and executed to fit the needs of modern living, production, and merchandising.”

Six teams were each given grants of five thousand dollars, and the designers also teamed up with “technologists.” For example, the Eames Office worked with the University of California at Los Angeles engineers.

The designs submitted by the Eames Office were for furniture produced from stamped aluminum or steel. Charles wrote: “Metal stamping is the technique synonymous with mass production in this country, yet ‘acceptable’ furniture in this material is noticeably absent…By using forms that reflect the positive nature of the stamping technique in combination with a surface treatment that cuts down heat transfer, dampens sound, and is pleasant to the touch, we feel that it is possible to free metal furniture from the negative bias from which it has suffered.”

Comprised of two bonded fiberglass shells, a chromed base, and natural oak feet, the chair exhibits a captivating elegance and allows for a wide range of sitting and reclining positions. The Eames La Chaise was never sold during Charles and Ray’s lifetime. It proved too costly to produce; however, their Armchair design, which they entered into the same competition, won a prize and was produced in fiberglass with great success.

It wasn’t until 1996 that the long-time Eames partner, Vitra International, began manufacturing and distributing the La Chaise in response to public interest and demand. Today, the chair serves as a long-established icon of organic design. It is available exclusively from Vitra.

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