Independent Overall Rating: 10 of 10
Arguably the most cherished and celebrated piece in the paneheon of furniture created by Charles and Ray Eames, we give the Lounge Chair a full 10 of 10 stars. The comfort that the Eames Lounge Chair provides is all the more impressive given that it was designed decades ago before the advent of modern ergonomics technology, and the look is timeless.
The Eames Lounge Chair is one of the most popular and famous chairs in the world. It has been, for more than half a century, the preeminent lounge chair when it comes to style, comfort, and historical value. It is undoubtedly the crown jewel of the Herman Miller Eames catalogue. The LCW might have been more technically stunning, and there may be other furniture with more daring lines and sculptural ideas; but there is no chair that combines the comfort, the classic style, the gorgeous melding of materials and the unexplained feeling of familiarity that the Eames Lounge Chair has. It is certainly in the discussion as the greatest chair of the last century, and as far as this reviewer is concerned, the prize is won.
It was designed by Charles and Ray Eames, two of the greatest furniture designers in modern history, and it is built, maintained, and warranted by Herman Miller, possibly the best fine furniture maker in the United States. There is nothing about this chair that doesn’t draw effusive praise, that isn’t worthy of celebration. It is an iconic piece, and rightfully so.
But even if it were not, this would be a deeply desirable chair. Had it been designed by someone else, forgotten by history, or somehow slipped through the cracks, it would still be a major piece of furniture. That’s because it’s so comfortable and supportive. This is the ultimate lounge chair, better than any recliner you’ve tried and more beautiful to boot, and the soft rich leather combined with the precise padding and gently curved wood make for a truly restful sitting experience. Charles and Ray designed the chair with a peculiar model in their minds; they wanted it to be like an old catcher’s mitt. And it certainly is, in all the right ways. Broken in, comfortable, never stuffy or pretentious, and redolent of Americana and nostalgic feelings. There is no more comfortable chair on the market, and none more effortlessly gorgeous.
Charles and Ray Eames are the best design team to ever work in America. They have a very good case for the best design office, period. The furniture they made is what they are most remembered for, and the Eames Lounge Chair is chief among the reasons. But there work and their interests were much wider than just furniture and industrial design. They were also teachers, architects, filmmakers, scientists, inventors, photographers, toymakers, and all around designers. They were instrumental in the modern furniture movement that would provide the taste and the styles which would begin to infiltrate the newly affluent American middle class post World War II.
They were highly creative, highly motivated, and highly playful. The things they made number into the hundreds, and the Office of Charles and Ray Eames was always a busy hub of activity. Heads together, pencils drawn, they worked in tandem, husband and wife against a stale design world in need of transformation, and emergency infusion of verve and style. They made many memorable short films that are still shown today, and their furniture (or the thousands of knock-offs) can be found in nearly every sphere of public and private life. The Eames Lounge Chair, however, is their crowning achievement. It tied together the technological leaps they’d made when they invented the molded plywood process to the everyday need for comfort and beauty in the home. The chair is proportioned just right, and it fits every user like a glove. If they had to choose a product that best exemplified their careers, they could do worse than pick the Eames Lounge Chair.
The style of the lounge chair is effortless. Or, at least it seems that way. The old catcher’s mitt is reflected in the unhurried, unpretentious, un-busy surfaces of the chair. The wood and the leather just fit together perfectly; the peanut butter and chocolate of modern furniture. The chair is definitely modern, but it’s not mod. It’s not dated in the slightest, and looks as appealing, fresh and new as it did when it first came out, half a century ago.
The chair is rounded and supple, and when you sit in it you almost feel hugged, invited in. That’s all part of the catcher’s mitt ideal. This is a chair that should make you feel familiar, comforted, supported, and deeply restful. The stylization is never fussy, never ostentatious; it just looks right. And that’s the clear mark of a classic.
You can also customize the chair using the Smart Furniture customization engine. You can change the color of the leather and the stain of the wood, and get the chair closer to fitting in with your pre-existing design schemes. When it comes to effortless style and grace, this is the jewel of the Herman Miller catalogue.
This doesn’t get a ten only because it wasn’t the very first chair that Charles and Ray made with their molded plywood. It was, however hard on the heels of the LCW, and in the opinion of this reviewer a better design to boot, so that really can’t be held against it. While the look of the chair is not as totally new as the molded plywood process, it is just as original. No one had made a lounge chair that looked like this before, and no one has successfully copied it since. It’s one of a kind, a truly unique and individual chair.
The look of the chair has lasted for a very long time, more than half a century, with no changes at all except environmental ones (the chair is now easier to recycle, made with a better type of wood, etc.). It stands atop the enormous line of excellent lounge chairs made in America, definitely number one.