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May 18, 2006

Eames Lounge Comfort

DWR Founder Rob Forbes celebrates the anniversary of the iconic Eames Lounge in his latest newsletter. Among the achievements of Charles and Ray's museum star, Forbes sites the chair's "exceptional comfort."

We know some of our readers disagree, but perhaps the modern Herman Miller versions sold through  DWR have improved comfort. What do you think? A comfortable classic, or a beautiful reminder that ergonomics has come along way in 50 years?

Excerpt from Forbes's DWR newsletter:
"The Eames Lounge Chair and Ottoman (1956) stand firmly in the world of icon status, and the pair's golden anniversary is being commemorated internationally. However, what truly makes this chair special is its exceptional comfort, even more so than its star status. Charles and Ray Eames conceived the chair as the 20th-century American answer to the Edwardian English Club Chair. In the process, they introduced the concept of a "lounge" chair to postwar America, as well as to Europe. (If you have a copy of 1000 Chairs nearby, flip through the pages up to the Eames Lounge, and then flip through the pages that follow. Do you agree the chairs appear to relax?)
At the time of the chair's debut, governments and businesses were busy ushering in a period of tremendous growth, cultural expansion and the rise of corporate America. The need for mass-produced housing was shaping architecture (11,000 Eichler homes were built between 1950 and 1974 in California alone), and roadways showcased the crisp and clean styling and performance of new automobiles. It was a time when American values were expressed through well-designed products manufactured in the U.S., and the results were recognized globally for their appeal.

Not only did these items have appeal then, but many continue to be popular today. The reason for the continuing relevance of the Eames Lounge Chair and Ottoman is simple. It's comfortable. It's at once precise and voluptuous, without sacrificing function or form. The Eameses wanted the chair to have "the warm receptive look of a well-used first-baseman's mitt" and the chair fulfills this objective, plus it has the unexpected motion from its cool swivel base. Its trim lines make this high-style lounger suited to the office as well as the study, and at the time of its introduction it was one of the first lounge chairs that appealed to women as much as it did to men. (A 1975 cover of Business Week had the headline "The Corporate Woman: Up the Ladder, Finally" next to a picture of a woman sitting in the Eames Lounge.) When a design offers as much as the Eames Lounge, it has the potential for longevity. If one could pick only one piece of modern furniture to use and appreciate, this would be as suitable as any."

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