Charles and Ray Eames plastic armchair DAW side chair DSW Köln
November 14th, 2013 by smow

“The new Eames plastic chair is a dream fulfilled”1

While one can, should, accuse the Walker Art Centre Minneapolis of being somewhat hyperbolic in their 1950 guide to “Useful Objects”, there is no arguing with the fact that with their family of moulded fibreglass chairs Charles and Ray Eames took furniture design into uncharted territory.

Or as Peter Smithson writes, “Before Eames no chairs (of the modern canon) were many coloured, or really light in weight, or not fundamentally rectangular in plan (ie the chairs of Rietveld, Stam, Breuer, Le Corbusier, Mies, Aalto)”2

Yet, and following the Walker Art Centre’s curve, as with all fulfilled dreams, the story of the Eames plastic chairs is one that so nearly never was……..

Vitra Eames Plastic Armchair shell

The Eames plastic armchair shell, here in a public seating version.

Buoyed by his success, together with Eero Saarinen, in the 1940 MoMA Organic Design in Home Furnishings competition Charles Eames continued throughout the early 1940s with his research into moulding plywood, research that received a financial boost in 1942 when he won a commission to supply his moulded plywood splints and stretchers to the US Navy. The “furniture breakthrough” came in 1944 when Charles and Ray Eames released their plywood childrens furniture collection of chairs, tables, desks and stools, before in 1946 Charles Eames had the honour of being the subject of the first ever solo furniture exhibition at the MoMA New York.3 “New Furniture Designed by Charles Eames” included, amongst other works, the DCM and DCW plywood chairs, models that Herman Miller very quickly took into production. And equally as quickly transformed into commercially successes.

By the late 1940s the Eames plywood chairs had established themselves as a steady family and a successful project and Charles and Ray decided to turn their attention to new materials.

The opportunity came in 1948 when the Eames’ were invited to enter the MoMA’s International Competition for Low-Cost Furniture Design.

Launched in January 1948 to find new forms of furniture “capable of being adapted to a variety of uses in today’s small homes”4 the competition not only invited individual designers to submit entries but also selected six design-research teams who were presented with a $5000 grant to assist their work.

Which all sounds a little unfair, but……

Charles and Ray Eames were paired with a team from the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA) and together they developed a series of stamped steel chairs, metal stamping being in Charles Eames opinion “the technique synonymous with mass production in this country, yet “acceptable” furniture in this material is noticeably absent…”5

A situation that stimulated a man such as Charles Eames.

The stamped steel chairs were awarded joint second prize in the competition; however, as fate would have it, the production costs of the stamped metal chairs proved to be much higher than expected. And the production process more complicated and involved.

And so in order to truly match the aims of the competition, and Charles and Ray Eames’ desire to get “the most of the best to the greatest number of people for the least”,6 an alternative was needed.

An obvious choice was synthetic materials. Whereas plastics and the like had previously never been a feasible option for furniture, developments in fibreglass technology, largely undertaken by the US military during the Second World War, coupled to advancements in production technology had by the late 1940s made using synthetic materials a real option for furniture manufacturers. The best example of the possibilities presented by synthetic materials unquestionably being Eero Saarinen’s Womb Chair for Knoll International, an object released in 1948.

And so with Herman Miller signed up as producer, Charles and Ray Eames began a cooperation with the California based Zenith Plastics focussed on developing fibreglass versions of the stamped metal designs.

The process began with what we know today as the armchair shell because, according to Neuhart et al, this represented the “greatest tooling challenge”.7

By all accounts the process went relatively quickly; however, producing the forms in fibreglass involved necessary changes to the original “metal” chair’s design, something which Charles Eames was happy to do if it ensured achieving his aim of producing affordable, everyday furniture for the masses. A situation which reminds us of Eero Saarinen’s former assistant Cesar Pelli’s comment on one of the differences between Saarinen and Charles Eames “He [Saarinen] was worried about form, Eames was worried about how to produce. When Eames had to sacrifice style to keep the technology coherent, he would; Eero would have no hesitation about sacrificing the technology to keep the style and form clean”8

It is therefore fortunate that Charles Eames and not Eero Saarinen was responsible for the project, and in 1950 the Eames plastic armchair was released by Herman Miller. And in the same year became part of the MoMA permanent collection.

Charles and Ray Eames plastic sidechairs

The DSX plastic side chair by Charles and Ray Eames

Although originally available in just three colours – elephant hide grey, beige or parchment – from the very beginning the choice of a wide variety of bases was an important part of the product concept. In addition to the metal DAX, wood DAW, rod DAR swivel PACC and rocking RAR bases we know today there was also a version with a single pedestal, a low lounge version – a version which if you ask us must have a place in our contemporary tablet and smartphone centred society – and the most charming bar stool/atelier height wooden legged version which, aside from the fact that the extra long wooden legs give the chair an elegance and balance that the DAW can’t come close too emulating, …. swivels.

The Eames plastic side chair shell was released a year later in the complementary DSX, DSW, DSR, PSCC and RSR versions, and the first upholstered plastic chairs appeared in 1953.

And on a side note, the RAR was initially only produced until 1968, however according to Neuhart et al until 1984 all new parents amongst the Herman Miller staff received a RAR as a gift.9 Which is just the most delightful gesture.

Charles and Ray Eames plastic armchair DAW side chair DSW Köln

The Eames plastic armchair DAW and side chair DSW from Vitra, here in the Wallraf-Richartz-Museum Cologne

With its general ease of production and distribution coupled to the fact that it was released into a market where “the boom in civic and office buildings in the 50s [had] created a need for lightweight comfortable seating that could take abuse”10, the Eames plastic chair family very quickly became even more successful than the plywood family and was to go on to become one of Herman Miller’s best ever selling product lines.

In the 1990s a decision was made to switch from fibreglass to polypropylene, largely on account of the greater ease with which polypropylene can be recycled; however, in principle the Eames plastic family remains the same inspiring product line it always was.

A dream still being dreamed, to paraphrase the Walker Arts Centre.

And the nomenclature of the Eames plastic chair family? An explanation can be found in our 2009 post DSR, RAR, DAW, ETC… The plastic chairs of Charles and Ray Eames.

Eames by Vitra Wasserschloss Klaffenbach Chemnitz RAR Hang it All

The spirit of Charles and Ray Eames relaxes in a RAR.... at Eames by Vitra, Wasserschloss Klaffenbach Chemnitz

Charles and Ray Eames plastic armchair DAR

The Vitra DAR plastic armchair by Charles and Ray Eames.

1. Walker Art Center (1950), Everyday Art Quarterly, No. 17 (Winter, 1950-1951)

2. Smithson, Peter  (1966) Just a few chairs and a house: an essay on the Eames-aesthetic. Architectural Design, September 1966

3. Holroyd, Geoffrey (1966) Chronological Table. Architectural Design, September 1966

4. $30,000 in grants and $20,000 in prizes in international competition for design of low-cost furniture. Announcement of terms and conditions. Museum of Modern Art New York Press Release, January 5th 1948. Accessed 14.11.2013

5. John Neuhart, Marilyn Neuhart and Ray Eames (1989) Eames design: the work of the Office of Charles and Ray Eames. Ernst and Sohn, Berlin

6. Time (1950) Sympathetic Seat. Time, 7/10/1950, Vol. 56 Issue 2, p47

7. John Neuhart, Marilyn Neuhart and Ray Eames (1989)

8. McCoy, Esther (1975) Nelson, Eames, Girard, Propst: The Design Process at Herman Miller. Design Quarterly, No. 98/99

9. John Neuhart, Marilyn Neuhart and Ray Eames (1989)

10. McCoy, Esther (1975)

Posted in Designer, Producer, Product, Vitra Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

smow blog best of 2011
January 5th, 2012 by smow

There is nothing cheaper and less original in the world of journalism than a look back over the highlights of a year/sports event/concert series/etc.

Except possibly “Ten tips for the perfect curry/haircut/crease”

However such a review offers the uninspired many advantages.

In addition to the chance to fill column space without having to think or research, there is also no risk that the German President will phone you to complain.

Unless of course one of your highlights was the time the German President tried to borrow five euros from you.

Which reminds us, did we ever tell you about the time…..

Despite the stigma, we’ve decided to look back on some of our highlights of 2011. And hopefully explain in a little more detail why they were highlights.

Let us know what you think and if you agree.

smow blog best of 2011

Playing in the park with a Vitra Eames DSR was fun.... but was it one of the (smow) blog highlights of 2011?

Posted in smow Tagged with:

June 28th, 2011 by smow
Vitra Eames DSR

Vitra Eames DSR

Da vi for nylig var på en lille rejse fik vi øje på en ægte Eames fiberglasbænk fra Herman Miller i en lufthavn.  Tager man stedets ret begrænsede faciliteter i betragning, forekommer betegnelsen ‘lufthavn’ faktisk noget optimistisk, og vores hektiske fotografering af bænken og Herman Miller-klistermærkerne resulterede også i en del latter fra folk omkring os – altså folk, som bruger deres tid på at fotografere fly!!

Herefter, da vi var faldet lidt ned efter den hektiske fotografering, begyndte vi at reflektere lidt over Charles og Ray Eames og deres glasfiber/plaststole.

I mange år var Charles og Ray Eames optaget af idéen om en sædeskal som støttede kroppen optimalt, og efter flere forgæves forsøg med krydsfinér og aluminiumsplader vendte parret tilbage til fiberglas. Charles havde sammen med sin ven og mentor Eero Saarinen skabt ‘Organic Chair‘, også kendt som ‘The Conversation Chair’ (‘Samtalestolen’), i forbindelse med konkurrencen ‘Organic Design in Home Furnishings’ i 1940 på Museum of Modern Art (MoMa) i New York.

Det var dog først i slutningen af 1940’erne at produktionsteknologien kom til at fungere således at det kunne betale sig, rent økonomisk, at fremstille stolene i et passede stort antal. I 1950 blev de to fiberglasstole, begge revolutionære for deres tid, tilgængelige på markedet – A-skallen med armlæn og S-skallen uden.

Eames PACC

Vitra Eames PACC

Det helt geniale ved Charles og Ray Eames og deres design kommer dog først i deres næste designfase. Efter at have designet de to sædeskaller, fremstilles der herefter en række basisstel til at placere skallerne på – et wirestel, et træstel, et ‘X-stel’ af forkromet stål, samt et stel på kuglehjul, og i 1955 blev samlingen udvidet med et stålstel der var egnet til stabling. Således skabte Charles og Ray Eames en familie af stole, hvor stellet kan tilpasses efter både hvor og hvordan stolen anvendes, mens selve sædet forbliver den samme velkendte model.
Eames skabte ligeledes en vidunderligt simpel terminologi for deres fiberglasstole. Eksempelvis har ‘Eames DSR – Dining height Side chair Rod base’ og ‘Eames DSW – Dining height Side chair Wood base’ samme S-skal, men forskellige typer stel. Tilsvarende kan steltypen hos DSX, PACC eller DAW ligeledes udledes af navnet.

I 1957 fik Vitra licens til at producere Eamesmøbler i Europa, og på dette tidspunkt var rækken af glasfiberstole allerede på vej til at blive en ægte møbelklassisker i det 20. århundrede.

Vitra Eames RAR

Vitra Eames RAR

I 1992 skiftede Herman Miller og Vitra produktionsmaterialet ud, og gik fra glasfiber over til i stedet at fremstille stolene i det miljøvenlige plastmateriale polypropylen. Design og form forbliver uændret, mens de miljømæssige konsekvenser af produktionen reduceres. Med deres høje, fleksible rygstøtter, dybe ‘sidelommer’ og vandfaldslignende frontkant tilbyder plastikstolen fra Eames en komfortabel siddeoplevelse, både hvis det blot drejer sig om et par minutter på kontoret, ved spisebordet under aftensmaden eller ved et længerevarende arrangement.
Charles og Ray Eames kunne gennem denne stoleserie realisere et af deres vigtigste mål for design: “Det meste af det bedste, til det største antal mennesker, for så lidt som muligt”  (“The most of the best to the greatest number of people for the least”)

(smow) tilbyder følgende udgaver af plasticstolene fra Eames:

Eames DSR : Dining Height Side Chair Rod Base (Spisebordsstol med wirestel)

Eames RAR : Rocking Armchair Rod Base (Gyngestol med armlæn og wirestel )

Eames DSX : Dining Height Side Chair X-Base (Spisebordsstol med X-stel af stål)

Eames DAW : Dining Height Armchair Wooden Base (Spisebordsstol med armlæn og træstel)

Eames DAR : Dining Height Armchair Rod Base (Spisebordsstol med armlæn og wirestel)

Eames DSW : Dining Height Side Chair Wood Base (Spisebordsstol med træstel)

Eames DAX : Dining Height Armchair X-Base (Spisebordsstol med armlæn og X-stel af stål)

Eames DSS-N/DSS : Dining Height Side Chair Stacking Base (Spisebordsstol med X-stel af stål, kan stables)

Eames PACC : Pivot Armchair Cast Base on Castors (Kontorstol med armlæn og kuglehul)

Eames PSCC : Pivot Side Chair Cast Base on Castors (Kontorstol uden armlæn, med kuglehjul)

Posted in Designer, Producer, Product, smow design blog på dansk, Vitra Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Vitra Eames Elephants prepare to ambush nordic walking pensioners in Leipzig
February 2nd, 2010 by julius

The last couple of days have seen an endless stream of emails into the (smow)blog bunker asking if we are OK.

And if we’re OK, why aren’t we posting anything?

Can’t we be bothered?

Are we bored?

Have we finally be rumbled by the (smow)boss?

Far from it, the sad truth is we’ve been forced into doing some real work for change.

We know, we can’t believe it either!

(smow) ... in stock and ready to go..

(smow) … in stock and ready to go..

The combination of Christmas holidays and heavy snow throughout Europe has meant that numerous deliveries from a number of (smow)suppliers have been delayed of late.

Delayed deliveries which all arrived on Thursday.

As we arrived at (smow)HQ on Thursday morning, Vitra were already waiting with a lorry full of products from designers as diverse as Charles and Ray Eames, Maarten van Severen or Verner Panton.

Then USM Haller arrived with a lorry full of Haller tables, USM Haller sideboards and roll containers.  And as they left us to head back to Bühl, moooi arrived from Amsterdam.

Sometimes it really is like the EU car park in the (smow)yard!!!

And then with lunch barely digested Moormann, Lampert and lapalma rolled up.

Fantastic as all this was, it did of course mean that someone had to pack all the new deliveries away.

And that task befell us.

But don’t worry, we weren’t actually forced to sweat.

For such tasks we have a team of specially trained and qualified Eames Elephants; we are simply needed to coordinate the whole exercise.

USM Haller being carried by Eames Elephants into the (smow)warehouse

USM Haller being carried by Eames Elephants into the (smow)warehouse

And so we have spent the past few days directing Eiermann desk, Vitra DSR and USM Haller carrying Vitra Eames Elephants through the endless corridors of the (smow)warehouse.

But everything is now – finally – stored away and our Eames Elephants have returned to the Leipzig Ratsholz to continue helping Leipzig City Council rid the public forests of the plague of nordic walking pensioners who have taken up residence there.

Good luck! We’re counting on you!

And we are back to drinking too much coffee and searching out the finest designer furniture stories for your entertainment.

Vitra Eames Elephants prepare to ambush nordic walking pensioners in Leipzig

Vitra Eames Elephants prepare to ambush nordic walking pensioners in Leipzig

Posted in smow Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Ero|s| by Philippe Starck from Kartell
January 25th, 2010 by julius

There is little doubt as to who the most popular furniture producers with the exhibitors here in Köln are…. Vitra and Kartell.

Two producers whom the Messe Köln sadly can’t attract to the show in their own right.
And that despite the fact that all the snack bars here in Köln Messe use Maarten van Severen‘s genial .03

On the stands here however we’ve seen, for example, Panton Chairs being used to augment otherwise tasteless bedroom suites and the classic Vitra DSR by Charles and Ray Eames standing at more than one table. Across the Rhein at designers open meanwhile, the somewhat less well earning young designers are more modestly kitted out, for example, with his Elephant Stool by Sori Yanagi.
Many of the more garish room set ups, meanwhile, use Kartell lighting as accessories.

The curious thing is – it works.

That however may just be due to the number of ironic bad taste hotel, spa and casino ensembles that Philippe Starck has organised of late. And not just lamps, Kartell seating pops ups up fairly frequently as well.  Sadly we’ve not seen as many from the Starck “Ghost” range as we like, however, we have seen some excellent ero|s| usage.
And as if all that wasn’t enough, the stands on which visitors fill out their registration forms are finest USM Haller.
But that USM Haller aren’t here is less of a surprise… they don’t do trade fairs.

And so despite our concerns over the aesthetics standards of some of the exhibitors here; it’s comforting to know that at least someone in the organisation can appreciate quality designer furniture.

03 by Maarten van Severen from Vitra

.03 by Maarten van Severen from Vitra

Vitra DSR by Charles and Ray Eames

Vitra DSR by Charles and Ray Eames

System USM Haller at IMM in Cologne

System USM Haller at IMM in Cologne

Ero|s| by Philippe Starck from Kartell

Ero|s| by Philippe Starck from Kartell

Posted in Designer, imm cologne, Producer, Product, smow, USM Haller, Vitra Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , , ,

The room Hohe Kammer in Berge with its mix of Moormann and Vitra DSR
December 9th, 2009 by julius

It all started with “boutique” hotels. which, if one is brutally honest, were simply small hotels. Or guest houses as we used to call them. Back in the day.

Then slowly, ever so slowly the term “design hotels” emerged and today – whether used to describe a hotel where each room has it’s own “identity” or an establishment furnished with designer furniture – design hotels represent an important part of the accommodation repertoire, and tourist marketing concept, of all major cities.
As with so much in life, the concept is however far from new.

Room 606 at the SAS Royal in Copenhagen. Designed by Arne Jacobsen

Room 606 at the SAS Royal in Copenhagen. Designed by Arne Jacobsen

One of the first design hotels was the SAS Royal in Copenhagen: and its status as design hotel owes less to marketing and much more to the character of the architect – Arne Jacobsen. The old master of Danish design was happiest when in complete control of a project, and often insisted on creating the interiors and furnishings for his buildings. As with the SAS Royal. Jacobsen’s famous Egg and Swan chairs – a ubiquitous feature of many design hotels today – were created specially for the lobby of the SAS Royal, and even the door handles are true design classics.

At the time of its completion in 1960 the hotel was the largest building in Scandinavia and set new architectural and aesthetic standards. And almost 50 years later the hotel retains both its charm, importance and completeness as the perfect match of building and contents.

Few modern “design hotels” come close to matching Jacobsen’s masterpiece, simply because the idea evolves from the wrong direction and with the wrong intention. Or perhaps more succinctly; they simply exist to make money.

Berge in

Berge in Aschau im Chiemgau, Germany

One modern establishment that does compare to Jacobsen’s vision is Berge; a harbourage for weary souls in southern Germany that was created very much in the character of its designer Nils Holger Moormann.

Essentially a collection of self catering flats at the foot of the alps, Berge embodies the Moormann philosophy of simple luxury and of finding your own pleasure in items and situations rather than having it force feed by an omnipotent media. And of going your own way.

In contrast to most hotels, Moormann boasts loudly that Berge has no WiFi, that the beds are narrow and that the mobile telephone reception is poor. Technically disadvantages in the modern mass tourist world, in Nils Holger Moormann’s world they become the raison d’etre to check- in.

The room Hohe Kammer in Berge with its mix of Moormann and Vitra DSR

The room Hohe Kammer in Berge with its mix of Moormann and Vitra DSR

Whereas in Copenhagen all rooms are identical and are furnished with the works of Arne Jacobsen, in Aschau im Chiemgau each room has it’s own style and identity. In addition the furniture reflects a more eclectic vision, combining a mix of Moorman products and other design classics such as the Vitra DSR by Charles and Ray Eames. A brave decision from a company that makes their money selling furniture, and certainly not something that Arne Jacobsen would have approved of.

And because the project is based on principle rather than naked profit, the balance between building and contents is retained just as perfectly as at the SAS Royal.

The design hotel is here to stay and will continue to excite and amuse the millions of budget airline city-breakers who fill their rooms every weekend. Whereas the work of Arne Jacobsen has become synonymous with the concept, Berge is likely to remain a solitary example of its type. Something which will no doubt please Nils Holger Moormann just as much as it would have Arne Jacobsen.

Posted in Design Tourism, Designer, smow offline Tagged with: , , , , , , ,

Hang it All by Charles and Ray Eames through Vitra
November 19th, 2009 by julius

In the world of designer furniture there are few designers for who “home” and “family” played such a central role as Charles and Ray Eames.

From the design of their “Eames House” as a combined living and working space for a young family and on through their many works for and with children, Charles and Ray Eames always presented themselves as “domestic” rather than “industrial” designers.

And so it is little wonder that so many of their designs can be so easily recommended as Christmas gifts.

Eames DSR from Vitra

Eames DSR from Vitra

Eames DSR

The Dining Height Side Chair Rod Base (DSR) is part of Charles and Ray Eames’ 1950s fibreglass collection. Although produced today by Vitra in polypropylenethe it is the same basic design that infatuated post war America. Whether as a set around a table or an individual piece for bedroom/bathroom/shed, the Vitra DSR by Charles and Ray Eames makes a welcome addition to any home or office.

Hang it All by Charles and Ray Eames through Vitra

Hang it All by Charles and Ray Eames through Vitra

Hang it All

Guaranteed to delight young and old alike; with its multi-coloured balls and irregular form Charles and Ray Eames’ Hang it All is a true classic of 1950s design and has served as an inspiration to scores of designers since.

Eams Elephant by Charles and Ray Eames for Vitra

Eams Elephant by Charles and Ray Eames for Vitra

Eames Elephant

Perhaps the definitive expression of Charles and Ray Eames child orientated work is the Eames Elephant.  Originally created in plywood, the Elephant never entered mass production during the Eames’ lifetime; the Vitra Design Museum reedition in plastic is therefore the first time the object has been available for all. Stable, secure and fun the Eames Elephant is the perfect gift for all children.

Lounge Chair and Ottoman

Those looking for that little something extra – or a gift that spreads itself out over several years – need look no further than the Eames Lounge Chair. The very epitome of Charles and Ray Eames design work, and one of the best known post-war American designs, the Eames Lounge Chair is designed to absorb and pamper the sitter. And together with the Ottoman the experience is even better.

Eames Lounge Chair from vitra

Eames Lounge Chair from vitra

Posted in Christmas is coming the goose is getting fat, Designer, Producer, Product, smow, Vitra Tagged with: , , , , , , ,

September 9th, 2009 by julius

One of the joys of being involved in the designer furniture industry is that every now and again one is allowed to share ones enthusiasm and passion with others.

We believe that in more vulgar industries such is known as selling.
And so it came to pass that last week the boys and girls from visited to test out a few chairs.


Jo,Alex, Jule and Dirk from Happy and friendly folks.

The testing lounge may not be as luxurious as those on offer in the two (smow)shops in Leipzig and Chemnitz but it does offer a pleasant and relaxing testing location.
And of course your (smow)blog team was also present to record the occasion.


The team left a chair for holidaying co-founder Peter Biermann

As Germany’s largest online student knowledge exchange platform, the team behind spend a lot of their time sitting at their computers.


However, as all who specialise in helping students with the preparation for exams know, a little relaxation is also important.

And so for a selection of chairs was arranged that could fit their varied needs: a Vegetal by Ronan and Erwan Bouroullec, a Eames DSR by Charles and Ray Eames,  a .07 and .03 by Maarten Van Severen,  a Panton Chair from Verner Panton and a Headline Management Chair by Mario & Claudio Bellini.


Dirk Ehrlich from virtual testing...

The undoubted star attraction of the afternoon was the Headline Management Chair from Vitra – hardly surprising given it’s ingenious ergonomics and for all the fact that even in a reclined position your line of vision remains horizontal and so optimal for viewing your monitor.

If you dont’ believe us, look at your monitor, lean back in your chair – without moving your head – and tell us how your ceiling looks. The effort and strain required to move your head so that you can look at your monitor is a badly negelected area of office chair design; something the Headline corrects to the benefit of your neck and shoulders.

Just as with the users of their online exchange portal, the team spent most of the session exchanging notes and discussing the topics raised by the session.


Alexander Reschke from tests a Vegetal from Vitra

Another chair that found a definite positive resonance was the Bouroullec brothers Vegetal – and for all the realisation that is a lot more comfortable, and for all not so hard, as it looks. Similarly the .03 by Maarten Van Seeveren for Vitra was also positively rated on account of its comfort and tactual charms.

In addition to the chairs also had the chance to test a Metal Side Table by Ronan and Erwan Bouroullec for Vitra. It may not be as large as the uniturms in Berlin, Frankfurt, Cologne or Munich; however, thanks to the harmony of the dimensions and the attractive formal contrast between slender table tops and voluminous, socle-like legs, it makes an attractive addition to any room, and as such is perfect for exchanging lecture notes or discussing upcoming exam topics.

Following a sociable round of coffee and cake the test sitting was ended and while the team from returned to their office we remained and spent a satifysing hour photographing the Panton Chair.

As we say, it’s passion this designer furniture business.


In trying to put his feet on the table the boss sets a bad example.

test-sitting and the search for the perfect designer furniture

Posted in smow Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Vitra Eames RAR
August 5th, 2009 by julius
Eames DSR from Vitra

Eames DSR from Vitra

On a recent trip we discovered a genuine Herman Miller Eames fibreglass chair bench at an airport. Being a relatively small airport – in fact so small that the word “airport” appears optimistic in describing it’s capabilities – our frenzied photographing of the chairs and the Herman Miller stickers caused quite a lot of amusement.
And that among individuals who spend their spare time photographing aircraft!!!

Anyway, once we’d calmed down a little we started reflecting a little on Charles and Ray Eames and their fibreglass/plastic chairs.

For many years the concept of a seating shell that perfectly supported the body was a pre-occupation of Charles and Ray Eames. Following unsuccessful attempts with plywood and sheet aluminum the pair returned, as it were, fibreglass. Charles had, together with his friend and mentor Eero Saarinen created the Organic Chair, also known as the Conversation Chair, for the 1940 “Organic Design in Home Furnishings” competition at the New York Museum of Modern Art (MoMa). However, only now in the late 1940s was the production technology such that fibreglass chairs could be produced economically and in suitably large numbers. In 1950 the two, for their time revolutionary, Eames fibreglass chair shells appeared on the market: the A-shell, with armrests, and the S-shell, without armrests.

PACC by Charles and Ray Eames from Vitra

PACC by Charles and Ray Eames from Vitra

The genius of Charles and Ray Eames, however, comes in the next stage. Having designed two shells the designers then created a range of bases on which to place the shells; namely, the rod (wire) base, the wooden base, the X-base and the cast base on castors. In1955 the range was extended with a stackable base. Thus Charles and Ray Eames created a seating family where the base can be chosen to fit location, use and function while the seat remains the same familiar, comfortable shell.

The Eames’s also created a wonderfully simply nomenclature for their fibreglass chairs. And so one has, for example the Eames DSRDining height Side chair Rod base – and the DSWDining height Side chair Wood base.  Both have the same S-shell, vary however in terms of the base. Similarly the form of the DSX, PACC or DAW can be deduced from the name.

By 1957 when Vitra received the license to produce the work of Charles and Ray Eames in Europe, the fibreglass chair range was well on its way to becoming a true classic of 20th century furniture design.

RAR by Charles and Ray Eames from Vitra

RAR by Charles and Ray Eames from Vitra

In 1992 both Herman Miller and Vitra switched production from fibreglass to polypropylene: the design and form remain the same, just the environmental impact of production and disposal is reduced.

With their high, flexible backs, deep seat pockets, and waterfall front edges the Eames plastic chair range offer a comfortable seating experience  – be it for a couple of minutes in an office, for the duration of a meal or a longer evening at a concert of other social event.

But much more importantly, through the plastic chair series Charles and Ray Eames could realise one of their principle design aims; “The most of the best to the greatest number of people for the least”

smow offer the following variations of the plastic chair by Charles and Ray Eames:

Eames DSR : Dining Height Side Chair Rod Base

RAR : Rocking Armchair Rod Base

DSX : Dining Height Side Chair X-Base

DAW : Dining Height Armchair Wooden Base

DAR : Dining Height Armchair Rod Base

DSW : Dining Height Side Chair Wood Base

DAX : Dining Height Armchair X-Base

DSS-N/DSS : Dining Height Side Chair Stacking Base (available with or without connecting element)

PACC : Pivot Armchair Cast Base on Castors

PSCC : Pivot Side Chair Cast Base on Castors

And the perfect companion for all chairs – the LTR Occasional Table: Low Table Rod Base

Posted in Designer, Product Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,