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Her Interior: The Eames Influence

Amanda Whitley

A chair that looked like a crisp. Another that resembled a “well-used first baseman’s mitt”.

They’re some of the most recognisable designs of the modern age, with countless reproduction furniture businesses producing their own ‘versions’ of Eames signature pieces. Bu there’s simply no comparison with the real thing.

And unless you are a design nerd, you may not know that the moulded plywood chairs you’ve been coveting are the work of husband-and-wife team, Charles and Ray Eames…and that they were created over sixty years ago. That’s an enduring sense of style.

The ‘Eames Look’ first came to prominence in the late 1940s, leading to a whole new aesthetic for furniture.

American design company, Herman Miller, produces Eames pieces and describes them as, “Lean and modern. Playful and functional. Sleek, sophisticated and beautifully simple.”

But Eames pieces are more than ‘just’ furniture – they are pieces of functional art. In fact, the world-renowned Eames lounge chair is now in the permanent collection of the Museum of Modern Art in New York.

Herman Miller says Charles and Ray loved their work, which was a combination of art and science, design and architecture, process and product, style and function.

“The details are not details”, said Charles. “They make the product”.

A problem-solver who encouraged experimentation among his staff, Charles once said his dream was “to have people working on useless projects. These have the germ of new concepts”.

Their own concepts evolved over time, not overnight. As Charles noted about the development of the Moulded Plywood Chairs, “Yes, it was a flash of inspiration”, he said, “a kind of 30-year flash”.

“With these two, one thing always seemed to lead to another,” says Herman Miller. “Their revolutionary work in moulded plywood led to their breakthrough work in moulded fibreglass seating.

“A magazine contest led to their highly innovative “Case Study” house. And a wooden plank contraption for taking naps, rigged up by their friend, director Billy Wilder, led to their acclaimed chaise lounge design.”

A design critic once said that this extraordinary couple “just wanted to make the world a better place”.

That they did. They also made it a lot more interesting.

Five Eames Designs we’re coveting


The Eames Hang-it-all


Eames Molded Plywood Chairs


Eames Molded Plastic Chairs


Eames Wire Base Low Table


Eames Sofa Compact


Get more Eames!

Love these Eames pieces? Get up to 25% off the Herman Miller Classic Furniture Collection at Designcraft until Saturday 28 February. 

We also have four Eames DVDs to give away – simply email [email protected] by 5pm Thursday 5 March and tell us your favourite Eames piece, for a chance to win!


Amanda Whitley

Amanda Whitley is the founder and director of HerCanberra. In her 'spare time', she instructs zumba, loves to cook (and eat), and wrangles two gorgeous little girls. She's done everything from present the tv news to operate a stop and go sign and is passionate about connecting Canberra women. More about the Author

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