Charles and Ray Eames began exploring methods of bending plywood into compound curves dring the late 1930’s, with the goal of applying these techniques to the design of affordable, comfortable, and easily mass produced furniture. Charles, alonside his equally famous friend Eero Saarinen, submitted a winning proposal for the MoMA‘s “Organic Furniture Competition” in 1940. Though production was put on hold shortly after due to the USA’s involvement in World War II, the Eames‘ continued their research and experimentation in bending plywood by designing and producing the now famous wooden splints for the United States Air Force. The technical knowledge gained from this endeavour allowed them to more feasibly manufacture the concepts they were exploring with the MoMA competition entry, and eventually resulted in the design and development of the LCW(Lounge Chair Wood), which was put into production in 1946.
Manufactured by Herman Miller in North America, and Vitra in Europe, the LCW is a triumph of persistent materials exploration and experimentation — something the Eames‘ found a way to do repeatedly throughout the entire span of their careers.
Fifty some-odd years after it’ creation, the LCW was named the ‘Design of the 20th Century‘ by Time Magazine in their 1999 millennium issue, beating out the steam locomotive for the top spot. In the Herman Miller classics catalog it reads: “We believe furniture becomes classic when it demonstrates a lasting appeal, an original personality, and a simple, innovative beauty and function. Classics are living proof that good things endure; they have a way of evoking a particular time and making time irrelevant.” I couldn’t agree more.
Head on over to the Herman Miller website to read more about the story of the LCW and the brilliant minds behind it.
photos c/o Vitra & Herman Miller