Eames

The Story of Eames Furniture, by Gestalten.

The folks over at Gestalten have released an epic book about Eames furniture. This 800 page tome is destined to become the benchmark reference on the Eames furniture for years to come. The book is part biography, but not in the true sense of the word. It is a biography of the designer, the process, and the relationship between designer and manufacturer.

The book is filled with fantastic photographs, insightful text, and explains in unparalleled detail how the Eames as well as a talented team of designers worked to create some of the most significant pieces of mid-century modern furniture in the world. The book describes in detail the key role played by the Eames Office’s own development and perfection of production processes for its designs as well as the significance of its relationship with manufacturers.

By documenting the creation and spread of these landmark furniture designs, this book also tells the story of how modernism became established in homes and offices throughout the world in the last half of the 20th century.

The suggested price is $199.00, but Amazon has it for $125.00

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Design Friday. Jasper Morrison.

Over the last few weeks I have been watching a BBC show that unfortunately isn’t available here in the USA. The broadcast is “The Genius of Design”, and it focuses on design topics and practices from industrial design to graphic design and all touch points in between. I was lucky enough to find the first 5 episodes online, and after some lengthy downloads, took time to watch them. (no I won’t post links to the copy-write protected content, you must find it on your own.)

One of the people who has been interviewed throughout the series is Jasper Morrison, who is quite arguably one of today’s most influential industrial designers. And because of Morrison’s profound influence on the world of design, he is the subject of today’s “Design Friday Post”.

If you want to truly understand Jasper Morrison’s work, you should flip through a copy of “World Without Words”. This is a series of images that Morrison compiled in 1988 from a collection of second-hand books and postcards. The images range from one of Buckminster Fuller’s Dymaxion houses and Gerald Summers’ one piece plywood chair to a fisherman’s hut on Hastings’ shingly beach, each image illustrates the wit and elegance with which Morrison has revitalised rationalist design.

Morrison was born in London in 1959 and grew up there as well as New York City, when his father an advertising executive was posted in the United States. He studied design at Kingston Polytechnic and the Royal College of Art. In 1986, a year after graduating from the RCA, Morrison opened his Office for Design in London.

Morrison cites his early influences as his grandfather’s study – a light, bright room furnished in the modernist style and an Eileen Gray exhibition he saw at London’s Victoria & Albert Museum. During his student years, Morrison became interested in the work of modernist pioneers – such as Buckminster Fuller, Gerald Summers, Jean Prouvé , Le Corbusier, and Eames. In 1981 Morrison saw the first exhibition of the Memphis Movement’s furniture designs in Milan, This exhibition became a major inspiration for his thinking on design. Later Morrison described the experience as: “Just fantastic. Here was proof that none of the old design rules mattered any more.”.

Jasper Morrison has always been a designer that focused on industrial production. Rather than making a single piece, or short run of production mockups by hand, Morrison went to small industrial workshops which would make up small quantities of objects from ready-made industrial components. His 1984 Flower Pot Table, for instance, was made from a glass circle supported by a stack of ordinary flower pots.

Over time Morrison won commissions from SCP in London; FSB, the German door handle maker; Cappellini, the Italian furniture manufacturer; and Vitra, the Swiss furniture company whose chairman, Rolf Fehlbaum, contacted Morrison after seeing a slide presentation of A World Without Words.

In 1988 Morrison created “Some New Items For The House”, a room set for the Berlin Design Werkstadt exhibition. The set consisted of chairs, tables, a chaise longue, four walls and a door – all made from plywood. At first glance, the objects looked banal with their simple lines and familiar forms, but closer inspection revealed the quiet intelligence with which Morrison had refined them. Critic Charles Arthur Boyer, described the pieces as Morrison having “crystallised” his design ethos: “to produce everyday objects for everyone’s use, make things lighter not heavier, softer not harder, inclusive rather than exclusive, generate energy light and space”.


Morrison has pursued that specific goal ever since. He still works for Vitra and Cappellini, and has now nurtured a strong working relationship with other clients including Flos, the Italian lighting company; Italian plastic manufacturer Magis; Rosenthal, the timeless German porcelain manufacturer; and Italian design the giant Alessi. The perfectly plain 1998 Tin Family steel kitchen tins he produced for Alessi and 1997 Moon tableware for Rosenthal echo the apparent simplicity and underlying subtlety of his aesthetic, and the “archetypal objects” that Morrison searches for constantly with his design process.

Critically, Morrison’s clients have also allowed him to experiment with new materials and technologies. The results include his 1999 Low Pad Chair for Cappellini, which was inspired by one of Morrison’s favourite mid-20th century chairs – the Danish designer, Poul Kjaerholm’s 1956 steel and leather Chair, but used a new method of condensed upholstery to create a comfortable, but durable padded leather seat. Another technical coup is his 1999 Air Chair, an elegant, relatively inexpensive moulded dining chair made from a single piece of plastic using Magis’s new gas injection technology.


In recent years Morrison has tackled even more complex commissions: notably by designing a light rail system for the city of Hanover in what he described as “an exhausting, but not unenjoyable” two-year project. He has also collaborated with the Swiss architects of London’s Tate Modern museum, Herzog & de Meuron, to furnish its public spaces with his Low Pad Chairs and 1998 Op-lá tray table for Alessi.

In 2000, Jasper Morrison departed from his self-imposed rule of concentrating on industrial production by accepting a commission from a museum in the Provençal village of Vallauris to produce a limited edition of ceramics made by local artisans. The result, as Morrison himself admits, shares the sleekness and formal clarity of his industrial designs. Rather than being flattered by his interest, the European craft community was outraged. “Why work with the ancient skills of the Vallauris potters,” railed an editorial in one craft magazine, “to make something that looks as if it came from a factory?”

In the early 2000s Morrison set up a new studio in Paris and proceeded to divide his working life between there and London. He acquired new clients such as Rowenta, the French household appliances manufacturer for which he is developing a new range of kitchen products including kettles, irons and coffee machines. Morrison also sustained his relationship with established clients by designing new projects for Cappellini, Magis and Vitra.

The New Dining Chairs Have Arrived.

After just 3 weeks of waiting for the Herman Miller sale to start, and the chairs to be shipped, our Eames Molded Chairs with Eiffel Tower bases arrived this afternoon. I wish I had ordered two more. These look stunning at the dining room table, but I have to say I wish I had two more. Unfortunately for now, they are going to have to wait. Ultimately this post is a product review, or I should say a first impressions review since I haven’t the chairs long enough to give a detailed product review. So here it is, first impressions of the new chairs.

They look stunning. The chrome base of complex interlocking geometry supporting the high density plastic seat. The intensity in the color of the red chairs is just outstanding. The photos did not do it justice. The color is a deep red-orange that is just so saturated. The seats are comfortable with good back support, and the light texture in the plastic helps keep you from sliding. One noticeable improvement over the original fiberglass chairs from the late 40’s through the 1960’s is the weight.  The new chairs feel so light, and in fact weigh in at just around 5 pounds thanks to the Injection-molded batch-dyed polypropylene; and chrome-plated steel base. I have to say I am really happy with the way they look with the table, and rest of the home. These chairs are a perfect match in color and style for our place. The only question now is, do I get green or sparrow gray for the next two.

Time to Order Tables and Chairs

I Was going to hold off a bit on getting the dining room table and chairs for the new house, but the Noguchi Cyclone table has an eight to twelve week lead time for manufacture and delivery from Knoll. That means if I order it this week, I’ll have it before Thanksgiving, which will come in handy since dinner is probably at the new house this year. That should be interesting, but we’ll cover that another time.

So if you missed the earlier post from a few weeks back, this is the table.

Noguchi Cyclone Dining TAble in White. 48 inch Diameter

Noguchi Cyclone Dining Table in White. 48 inch Diameter

As for chairs, this is what I am going to get. 6 chairs, 2 in green, 2 in blue, 2 in orange

Eames® Molded Plastic Side Chairs with Eiffel base

Eames® Molded Plastic Side Chairs with Eiffel base

The Real Deal vs Imitations. Eames or Almost Eames

The black nock off and the cherry wood real Eames Molded Plywood chairs

The black knock off and the cherry wood real Eames Molded Plywood chairs

About 2 years ago I bought 2 Eames Molded Plywood Lounge Chairs from a company in Los Angeles California.  The chairs were supposed to by licensed Herman Miller chairs, authentic to the original manufacturing and design specifications by Charles and Ray Eames. Well they are nice chairs, but they are not the real deal. And when you see them next to real Herman Miller licensed chairs you will see what I mean.

About 2 weeks ago I got two more of the Molded Plywood chairs. This time from a dealer that sell Herman Miller products. When you compare the old chairs to the new ones it is immediately obvious that there are subtle differences. Differences that make the new chairs look so much better.

First off the older chairs are slightly smaller in all dimensions but seat height, and the wood that is used in the construction is a slightly thicker, cheaper grade of plywood. There are additional things like the chamber and roll of the seat and chair backs as well. Slight changes in angles and curves that are so subtle but totally make the new chairs. Things you wouldn’t notice unless you see them side by side in person.

So what is the lesson learned here? Well I might have saved a couple hundred bucks on the first chairs, and no matter how much I have enjoyed them, there is no substitution for the quality of the genuine article. The new set of chairs are simply more aesthetically pleasing to the eye. And yes the quality is reflected in the new price, but it is so worth every penny spent.Eames Chair Comparison