The new Eames plastic chair is a dream fulfilled--a dream made possible because of recent technological developments in the field of plastics. This chair, now industrially produced, is the embodiment of a concept arrived at by Saarinen and Eames over ten years ago. It is more like the design they conceived for the 1940 Museum of Modern Art competition than the chair that is was possible to produce at that time.
The 1940 design was mad of molded plywood--to be partially upholstered, but the complicated compound curves of the chair proved to be more difficult to mold than they had anticipated. Consequently, it was necessary to cover the entire shell with foam rubber and upholstery so that the flaws in the surface of the molded plywood would detract from the clean lines in the design. With the development of Zenaloy--a plastic resin reinforced with Fiberglass--it has become possible to make this large single piece shell smooth and unembellished as it was originally conceived.
The 1948 chair allows for several shifts in position and therefore remains comfortable for long periods of time. The plastic is practically indestructible--it is warm to the touch, mar proof, and unbelievably light in weight. Its soft luster gives it a feeling of warmth and translucency that lends an almost magical quality to the play of light through the flowing unbroken surfaces of the shell.
This chair is a tour-de-force in simplicity of construction. It is easy to mass-produce--easy to distribute. We have high hopes that as it goes into greater production the piece will be made even lower, both to reflect the master engineering that went into it and to justify our faith in a design that makes the most of industrial technology.
(top 2) chair designed by Charles Eames, manufactured by Herman Miller (bottom) chair designed by Eames and Saarinen for the Organic Design Competition for the Museum of Modern Art, 1940