eames moments: in pop culture


"The nude chair"


At the Long Beach Museum, a 1951 show entitled "Design for Living" was installed just as the museum was in the process of changing directors. One of the featured pieces was a chrome-and-plastic chair created by designer Charles Eames and decorated by Saul Steinberg with a cartoon-like drawing of a female nude. The incoming director found the piece "vulgar" and instructed her staff to turn the chair toward a wall so that Steinberg's sketch would be hidden from museum visitors' view. Staff loyal to the former director, who defended Eames' work, returned the chair to its original position. The two sides continued to scuffle over what the press dubbed "the nude chair," and took turns repositioning it throughout the show's run.


Lights, Camera, Architecture...

The Second Woman is a disturbing little flick starring that "Father Knows Best" guy, Robert Young, who plays a persecuted architect whose artwork, home, and furnishings are mysteriously destroyed. If you look closely, you will be able to see, as the hero walks by a burned out modern room, a pair of barely singed Eames chairs, that have survived the fire intact, with their backs on upside down. Obviously this is the work of a maniac with hidden resentment!


Speaking of upside down chair backs...

A writer for a British magazine (Frank Newby), while reviewing the designs of Charles Eames, included photos of popular chair models--with just one small problem: the photos show the chair backs attached incorrectly to the chair spines--they are upside down. This might not be readily apparent to a casual observer but a few seconds sitting in the chair would reveal a far less comfortable seat.


Playboy on design...

If you want to see six top American designers posing in one room, get the July issue of Playboy Magazine--the July issue from 1961, that is. This great article on modern decor features a stunning group portrait of Wormly, Eames, Nelson, Bertoia, Risom, and Saarinen (with their clothes on). The article, written by John Anderson, features dozens of revealing photos of your favorite models of American Contemporary furniture. Mr. Anderson gives plenty of advice on how to decorate that swinging bachelor pad, along with the actual list prices for the top designs of 1961. This is one Playboy you really can tell your friends you bought just for the articles.


Eames House of Fashion

A collector sent in this photo to share with fellow Eames fans. Torn from the pages of an early '50s Bazaar fashion magazine layout, this Capri-clad gal is lounging in the sun in the front room of the Eames Case Study House in Santa Monica, California. I would bet that Ray Eames had a hand in doing the styling for this photo shoot with the classic Eames objects, i.e. the bird, sticks, shells, and shadows.


Plastic Serving Trays, 1954

These plastic serving trays feature the Ray Eames fabric pattern entitled "sea things." These trays were produced in several color combinations like the original printed fabric for which Ray Eames originally created this pattern.
These trays are made with the original Scheiffer Fabric Company designs and one must assume that the design was passed on to another business within the Scheiffer ownership. While the white cocktail tray is simple and square, the blue serving tray has more of a 1920s look.

Eames, for the record...

eames record
Check out the photo of the Eames designed "Do-Nothing Machine" on the cover of this MGM record release. The Eames' sculpture/toy, designed for the pioneering Alcoa Forecast Design Program, is featured on the cover of volume two of SuperSonic Guitars by Billy Mure. The music will take you on a supersonic tour of musical moods.



eames moments: product tales


Drinking with Herman Miller

Produced during the late 1950's through the Sixties, Herman Miller offered a counter stool in a wide variety of Naugahyde colors. Next time you nuzzle up to a cold Miller's beer at that old neighborhood bar, take a look at what you are seated on. That could be a Charles Eames/Herman Miller bar stool you just climbed on or fell off--of course, in that latter position you could check to see the Herman Miller label.


Don't try this at home...

An interesting Eames coffee table story was related to me by an early salesman/fan of Herman Miller Company. In the late forties and very early fifties, he found that the Eames dimple coffee tables were a hard sell for him to make to clients. The modern plywood coffee tables, while a groundbreaking design and innovative, still looked a little bit on the weak or unstable to the uneducated post-war consumer. This salesman would wait until the prospective buyer would make that "the table looks too light to use" comment and then he would literally leap into action. Flipping off his shoes, he would jump up onto the top of the table and explain that this design worked very well. This demonstration, he said, was responsible for selling more of these tables to his clients than any amount of talking.


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