Furniture-making techniques adapted well to the forms of a four-legged animal. And since the animals were smaller items, it was economical for them to experiment with these new anamorphic forms with the equipment already available. It also meant they used less wartime-controlled materials. The animals: bears, horses, frogs, elephants, and seals were intended to be produced from birch plywood allowing a child to sit, play or crawl underneath. The animals could even be nested and stacked.
Three animals, the frog, bear, and seal, were mocked up in metal, while the elephant was initially prototyped in cardboard. Later, the Eames Office fabricated two birch prototypes of the elephant and three horses. The elephant was included in The Museum of Modern Art showings in late 1945 and early 1946. However, the animals were not commercially produced in Charles and Ray’s lifetimes.
Vitra changed that when, in 2007, they honored Charles’s centennial by producing 2,000 plywood elephants—1,000 red and 1,000 natural. Shortly thereafter, Vitra released the elephant in durable plastic for children to enjoy.
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