While there is definitely some disagreement about the (attractiveness?) of the Eames Chair, there is no denying that it has become an icon of modern design. The Eames Chair has become a staple in homes everywhere (both modern and traditional) and it is becoming increasingly difficult to find a house without one. So why is this chair’s use so controversial?
There is no denying the comfort of the Eames Lounge Chair. First designed in 1956 by Charles and Ray Eames for the Herman Miller furniture company, the goal was to match the feeling associated with the snugness of a well-fitted baseball mitt, and it certainly has achieved that goal. The shell is made out of a molded plywood – the first piece of popular furniture made with this material – which gives it a natural finish that resembles a baseball mitt. It is then cushioned to wrap around your body and when completed with an ottoman, can almost be good enough to replace your bed!
These chairs were inspired by director Bill Wilder who created his own lounge chair to keep him comfortable during his long hours on set. They carry a mid-century modern feel with a touch of 50’s vintage. No matter the home or office design, the Eames Chair can be modified to fit with different shades of wood and custom upholstery.
The Eames Longe Chair’s popularity has even landed it roles on the big screen, having been featured in many modern television shows and movies, including Mad Men, a favorite among interior designers. These chairs are so iconic that they were added to the Museum of Modern Art’s permanent collection when Herman Miller donated an original 1956 rosewood chair and ottoman.
Yet what makes this chair’s use so controversial? It is undoubtedly a well-known and popular piece, but along with praise comes criticism. Reading through online discussions some feel the piece may be too popular. Some believe the Eames Chair has become an overused status symbol. People place them in rooms for the sake of having an Eames Chair rather than by design. A notable discussion I stumbled upon was on the popular forum Reddit.com, and it was a particularly heated debate.
“I hate those chairs, people who buy them should just replace them with a giant sign that says ‘I HAVE MONEY’, would be more to the point.”
“I think they’re a great piece of design, BUT you see a lot of rooms where they clearly don’t fit the aesthetic and are just a showoff piece. I think the one in this room ties in nicely enough with the other elements though.”
“I like it it too, but the piece is so ubiquitous and well known that to me people don’t really care about it looking good as much as they care about using it as a transparent display of wealth, it’s tacky, uninspired and very nouveau riche.”
Is the Eames Longe Chair pricey? Yet, but its appeal and quality are what have added to its value. It’s nearly a perfect match of both form and function. It becomes a statement piece in every room, but one that someone can lie in and comfortably use throughout its lifetime. If you have ever sat in one, you will know why they are found in homes all over the world. As Charles Eames asked, “Who ever said that pleasure wasn’t functional?”