Since 1929, MoMA has sought to find designers and artists whose work is original and long-lasting in its influence—true pioneers who can combine a love of design with practicality and innovation. The husband-and-wife design team of Charles and Ray Eames defines this combination.“The chair should have the warm receptive look of a well-used first baseman’s mitt.” —Charles Eames
About Eames® Lounge Chair and Ottoman:
When Charles and Ray Eames first conceived this design, they wanted to create a chair that was comfortable. It has since become a statement chair, a piece of art that is as comfortable as it is beautiful. The second Eames® Lounge Chair and Ottoman to come from the production line was given as a gift to film director Billy Wilder, a frequent collaborator of Charles and Ray Eames. The Lounge Chair and Ottoman has appeared throughout pop culture, from films like Sunday in New York to the TV series Frasier.
The Eames® Chair and Ottoman at MoMA
n the catalogue for a solo exhibition of Charles Eames’ furniture in 1973, MoMA curator Arthur Drexler, praised the chair, writing “Eames is the only designer to attempt a lounge chair which would surpass in comfort anything an English club chair can offer.” Traditionally, these are two drastically different design concepts, one devoted solely to comfort and the other, to elegance.
What Makes the Eames® Lounge Chair So Special?
The chair is a functioning piece of art—it is as beautiful as it is comfortable. Made with genuine leather, the comfort of the chair develops and softens over time. Charles and Ray Eames revolutionized plywood furniture-making by developing a new way to mold and bend plywood durably.
The Eames® Lounge Chair and Ottoman takes full advantage of the potential of the contours of the molded plywood, creating a form that is comfortable to relax in. The seat of the Lounge Chair has a permanent tilt. This angle supports your chest, so you’ll be more comfortable while reading, watching TV and conversing. This takes weight off your lower spine and distributes it to the back of the chair. Your lower back is supported by the seat’s lower cushions. (This makes you feel more relaxed.) The ottoman provides a health benefit: besides being a comfortable place to rest your feet, it helps restore normal blood circulation after a work day of constant sitting or standing.
The chair is composed of three separate curved 7-ply veneer shells: the head rest, the back support and the seat, all topped with upholstered leather cushions. The leather is highly durable medium-grain leather that will develop a softened patina over time. When first conceived, their modest desire was, according to Charles, to create a chair with “the warm, receptive look of a well-used first baseman’s mitt”—translating the soft, comfortable look and feel of a genuine leather baseball glove that has been properly broken in. The seat pivots on a five-pronged base, moving effortlessly with one’s body movements.
The Lounge seat borrows an additional innovation from the original Eames® plywood chairs: rubber “shock mounts” which allow the separate but connected backrest and headrest to flex independently with the weight of the user. The innovative shock mount, which was not part of the original design but was added later, is also one of the reasons the chair stands the test of time, by relieving static pressure that rigid fasteners have on typical furniture. The chair also has die-cast aluminum back braces and a built-in swivel mechanism, giving you freedom of movement.
We now offer the Eames Lounge Chair and Ottoman in fabric styles. The checkered fabric was designed by Alexander Girard in 1965. Girard’s checkered fabric design was used for an armchair he conceived in 1967, which is an object in MoMA’s collection. The second fabric option is bouclé, a fabric characterized by its nubby texture, available in two colors.
Nearly 70 years since it was first brought to market, each Eames® Lounge Chair and Ottoman continues to be handmade in the same factory in Michigan. One of the reasons why the Eames® Lounge Chair and Ottoman costs more is due to the quality of materials and attention to detail, as production has changed little over the past 50 years. The chairs are still assembled by hand, the leather cushions individually upholstered, and each chair seat undergoes a shock-mount test. The chair’s molded plywood is made of premium walnut or cherry wood veneers. (The cherry wood version is available only from MoMA Design Store.) The chair is equipped with innovative shock-absorbent parts to ensure years of trouble-free use. For the upholstery, each piece of genuine leather is carefully inspected.
The interior cushioning is made from high density urethane foam that holds its form and will not deteriorate over time. The chair and ottoman are hand-assembled and each piece is individually inspected before it’s sold. Production of the furniture is of the utmost standards. There is no substitute for the craftsmanship of the original. The Eames® Lounge Chair and Ottoman is an object in MoMA’s collection, so having one is like owning a piece of modern design history.
At MoMA Design Store, we sell the original Eames® Lounge Chair and Ottoman based on the Eameses’ specifications that are still licensed and manufactured today by partners Herman Miller, in the United States. Herman Miller® is the original manufacturer and the Eames® Lounge Chair and Ottoman has been in continuous production since 1956. MoMA Design Store offers an exclusive cherry wood veneer finish.