History and Critical Reception
The long, fascinating history of the Eames Lounge Chair and Ottoman actually begins many years before the chair was ever built, and many years before it was even thought of. Like all great products it was a mixture of inspiration, luck, good design, intelligent oversight, and a particular moment in history. The chair didn’t spring from whole cloth, nor was it born fully formed in the minds of its creators, leaping out of their heads like Athena. It was the product of long brainstorming sessions, testing, piloting, prototyping, and a generous love of design for design’s sake.
The Eames Lounge Chair and Ottoman came out of the Office of Charles and Ray Eames, a legendary design institution that would incubate thousands of brilliant ideas, brainstorming sessions, toys, exhibits, and playful, beautiful, enduring design. The Office of Charles and Ray Eames was a safe haven, a playground for design oriented personalities, where they could explore their interests and ideas with a free rein. From this Eden-like studio, the very first molded plywood chairs were built, and the first step in a long series was taken into making the Eames Lounge Chair what it is today.
The molded plywood chair, nowadays most often referred to as simply the Eames Chair, was groundbreaking is several different ways, all of which are applicable to the Eames Lounge Chair. The molded plywood material that was used had never been seen before, and was the product of a brand new process of super-heating the wood and then bending it into impossibly perfect and smooth curves. This had never been done before, and while the first molded plywood chairs were quite simple (and are today mostly seen in children’s classrooms), they were nevertheless quite bold and unique. The undulating seat and the curved back both contributed to the paradox the Eames’s strove for with nearly all of their furniture; the balance between modern processes and natural forms and inspiration. The molded plywood chair was one of the fathers of the Eames Lounge Chair, without a doubt, and the materials (molded plywood), prestige, and inspiration were very similar, though the final looks were not.