Dezeen Magazine

Eames Lounge chair by Charles and Ray Eames

Dezeen's A-Zdvent calendar: Eames Lounge chair by Charles and Ray Eames

The moulded plywood and leather lounge chair by American Modernist designers Charles and Ray Eames is the letter E in our A-Zdvent calendar.

The Eames Lounge chair and its accompanying ottoman were first developed by husband and wife team Charles and Ray Eames in 1956 as a gift for their friend Billy Wilder, the director of films including Sunset Boulevard and Some Like it Hot.

The furniture makes use of the innovative moulded plywood production method that the Eames' had pioneered since the early 1940s, when they created a lightweight leg splint that was bulk ordered for use by the US Navy.

Eames Lounge chair by Charles and Ray Eames
Image courtesy of Herman Miller, also main image

Charles Eames purportedly began designing the chair as a modern alternative to the traditional English club chair that retained the ample proportions and comfort of this archetypal product but employed the latest materials and craftsmanship.

The curving shell sections of the chair and ottoman are formed from plywood veneer that is glued, heated and pressed over moulds.

Die-cast aluminium bases support the wooden shells, which are covered with leather-upholstered cushions to give the chair what Charles Eames described as "the receptive look of a well-used first baseman's mitt".

An innovative fastening system is used to fix the cushions to the shells without the need for visible screws or nails. A zipper sewn onto the edge of the cushions attaches to a plastic backing that then clips onto a series of hidden rings.

Eames Lounge chair by Charles and Ray Eames
Image courtesy of Vitra

American furniture brand Herman Miller has been producing the chair since the year of its design. Over the years it has added a version with ash veneer and white cushions as well as a version with black lacquered ash. Swiss brand Vitra introduced the Eames Lounge to the European market.

The chair is included in the permanent collection of many of the world's leading museums, including MoMA in New York and the Art Institute of Chicago. Earlier this year, designer Ora-Ïto created an homage to the Eames' "most famous" chair by proposing a Nike trainer with similar curved veneer sections.