Iconic Designer Furniture: The Eames Aluminum Group
The Eames Aluminum Group Chairs have a long history with critical praise and museums. This article explores the culture that the chairs grew out of, the milieu in which the were born, and the current status they enjoy as senior but vibrant members of Herman Miller's classic catalogue. It’s rare that mass produced items which have as their primary purpose purely functional activity are raised into the category of great art. But one of these unique creations is the aluminum series. This is The Eames Aluminum Group Chairs: In The Museum.
When the industrial designers of the mid 20th century turned their intentions toward creating beautiful furniture, meaningful furniture and effective living solutions for the new century, they began to be seen as something rather more than furniture. Even though they were mostly mass produced (and this was intentional) they were soon given the title of art, sculpture, even architecture. And like every great art movement, this one had its great artists, as well as great patrons. In this number (patrons) Herman Miller was certainly the pre-eminent name. They housed the works of many of the most daring, inventive and creative designers the movement saw, including Charles and Ray Eames and George Nelson. They brought those designers into the fold and put much of the company’s future in their hands, and that trust paid off.
Soon the designs that were coming out of Herman Miller were being bought for more than just living rooms and offices, they were being purchased for the permanent collections of museums and travelling exhibitions. Scholars were contacting them for interviews and blueprints, any and all ephemera related to their most famous and worthy creations. Books were written, exhibitions put on, and articles published in magazines and newspapers. The new art of the 40s, 50s and 60s was furniture, and it was a movement that had both practical and aesthetic considerations, as well as success. Industrial design anticipated the pop movement of the 60s, and reflected the surrealist and representational art of the previous decades. They reflected their time, in other words, and were themselves part of the everyday, living culture. Not bad for furniture.
There were many entries in the new and growing canon of truly great modern furniture. But at the forefront of that group were several Herman Miller properties, including the subject of this article.
One of the most famous chair designs in 20th century history is the Eames Aluminum Group Chair. The chair combined innovative techniques, new materials, and a distinct point of view to create a new sort of chair for the home and office. It was thin, it was new, and nowadays it’s a near perfect expression of retro-cool that has lost none of it’s edge or value, and isn’t dated in the slightest. This is a series of chairs that will be remembered for a long time, for many reasons. But one of the most obvious is their inclusion, almost immediately upon release, in the canon of moder design.
You can find these chair in museums, travelling exhibitions, and critical essays and books about chair and industrial design in the last century. They are legitimate historical concerns, and their value in your home is not only in their comfort, support, and unique look. It is also in their permanent status as icons, their pedigree of being designed by Charles and Ray Eames, their fascinating design history, and their real status as a conversation piece. These are some of the great chairs to be produced in the history of industrial design, and there are several places committed to keeping that kind of art available and on display.
Eames Aluminum Group Chairs , as well as other Eames creations like the Lounge Chair, the LCW, the Sofa, and the La Chaise have all been housed in museums as diverse as the Museum of Modern Art in New York and local exhibits in Michigan, and at places as prestigious as the Art Institute in Chicago. And while travelling displays often carry the chairs, the most impressive part is that they are often housed in the permanent collection, available for display for as long as the building stands, and given such cachet by the curators that they just have to be owned.
Lucky for Smart Furniture customers, you don’t have to go to a museum or be a curator to get your hands on an Eames chair. You can just buy your own Eames Aluminum Group Chair from Smart Furniture and Herman Miller, in the same form and using the same materials as the originals built half a century ago. The same plans, the same everything; and all of it approved and monitored by the Office of Charles and Ray Eames, family run and still extant in California. These are the real deal, and Smart Furniture couldn’t be prouder to make them available to our customers.
While their historicity, aesthetic beauty and technological innovation makes the Eames Aluminum Group Chairs a perfect fit for museums, that isn’t where they are intended to go by Charles and Ray. They are intended to be in American homes and offices, serving the needs of the populace and making American home and office living a little more beautiful, a little more comfortable, a little more stylish. And all for prices that aren’t going to break your bank. The lounge chair is meant for your living room, a place to relax, nap, watch TV or read a book. The executive chair is meant for your personal office, a chair that bestows elegance and prestige, that looks great. And the management version of the chair is meant for the everywhere and the everyday; it’s a jack of all trades, ready and willing to suit whatever purpose you choose for it.