The History Behind the Eames Lounge Chair

Posted on May 19, 2021

This week, we are taking a closer look at the history behind the Eames Lounge Chair and how this famous piece of furniture came to fruition. 


It took not one, but two minds to conceptualize the chair that took the furniture industry by storm. The aforementioned minds belonged to Ray and Charles Eames, a married couple of industrial designers. The pair originally met at their alma mater, Cranbrook Academy of Art, and from there, they combined forces to bring beautiful furniture to the average citizen. They specialized in producing sleek, spare-lined designs.


Most people do not know that America’s favorite chair arose from one man’s affinity for naps. Ray and Charles Eames were close friends with the noteworthy movie director Billy Wilder. As one can imagine, the life of a filmmaker can be extremely taxing, so Wilder would often create a makeshift lounge chair that allowed him to nap on set. One day, the Eames couple visited Wilder at work, saw his contraption, and became inspired to design a better version.  


The primary objective of the design for the Eames Lounge Chair and Ottoman set was to afford people an escape from the hardships of modern living. It was intended to have the "the warm receptive look of a well-used first baseman's mitt," according to Charles. Ray also commented that the chair looked "comfortable and un-designy," which is exactly what they wanted–– and apparently, what America wanted as well. 


The chair consisted of molded plywood, an aluminum base, and leather upholstery. At the time, plywood was an experimental material, but Ray and Charles found a way to heat up the plywood to make it more malleable. They eventually perfected this process and achieved the luxurious curvatures you can see in the chair today. 

While the first completed Eames Lounge Chair and Ottoman set was gifted to its muse, Billy Wilder, you can now purchase your own set off of the Herman Miller website.

Related: Home Office Essentials

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