DATE - 1945

In 1945, at the Barclay Hotel show, and in 1946 at the MoMA Eames exhibition, two types of molded plywood chairs were exhibited. There were the DCW and LCW models we still make today, with molded plywood seats and backs and bentwood legs, and there were also several experimental 3-legged chairs.

Eames Three-Legged Chairs

The press who covered these shows, and even Charles Eames, liked to highlight the concept of the Eames Three-Legged Chairs designs, including a form of a three-legged chair, which was dubbed “the scrambled legs” chair. For example, the New York Times concluded their very favorable review of the entire MoMA show, which was dedicated to the Eames molded plywood group, in these words: “Perhaps the most unusual single piece in the collection is “the chair with scrambled legs,” designed to provide safety for males who cannot refrain from tilting backward. 

Of the four legs, one extends to the rear and another to the front so that only three (legs) touch the floor at any one time. Some of the three-legged chairs had literally only three legs: one in front and two in the rear. They even tried the reverse. Charles and Ray Eames were acutely attuned to feedback. During the run of this exhibition, they encouraged a few people to try the three-legged chairs, and the results were not satisfactory. 

They made three-legged chair bases out of metal rod and flat metal sleds and wood. Charles later explained: “Solid steel rod seems the best way to get the most strength with the thinnest line. A much thinner line than even the tube that has been used in previous metal furniture. We thought that a tripod base would be a good idea because three legs would always tend to be steady when the floor was uneven. And a four-legged chair would rock. But we found that even a skilled sitter could be unseated while picking up a pencil. Putting a single leg in the rear was no help, you can’t lean back. Four legs again seemed best, and the frames began to take their final forms.”

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