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How an icon is born: Eames Lounge Chair and Ottoman by Charles and Ray Eames for Vitra
Comfortable like an armchair, sober like an office chair: themanages to combine these two characteristics like perhaps no other chair in the world. Designed by in 1956 and originally produced by Hermann Miller, the chair will soon be launched in Europe and the Middle East by , which still produces it today. In 1957, it was also presented at the Salone del Mobile in Milan, where it appeared almost like an object from space: a swivel chair in which you could almost lie down and stretch your legs on its footrest.
The project consists, in fact, of two elements: the chair and the footrest, which, although distinct from each other, seem to draw a single shape in continuity. Silhouette inspired, in the intentions of the two designers, by the comfortable shapes of the classic English club seat, reinterpreted in a modernist key and defined by Ray Eames herself as “comfortable and not design-y”. The look had to be that of a comfortable, informal and welcoming chair but, at the same time, the designers did not lose sight of the target of this project: the high-level market with which they began to confront in those years. That's right, because the Lounge Chair was the first project for the luxury market they worked on.
The armchair itself is the story of the design culture of the two designers: the structure is made up of three “shells” of curved plywood covered with various finishes, which make up the seat, back and headrest. The backrest is slightly inclined and flexible, to accommodate the weight and movement of the body that rests on it. The upper part is in leather and fully padded, including armrests, to create an enveloping and luxurious nest in which to relax.
The Eames Lounge Chair, despite having a different appearance from the classic armchair, therefore retains its purpose: to guarantee a welcoming and comfortable support to those who use it. The footrest is a further concession to the desire for relaxation: essential and discreet, it invites you to relax without ever losing decor. And perhaps this is precisely the secret of the success of this chair: the ability to combine informal habits and composure, modernist lines and familiar uses in a perfect balance. Austere but not repulsive, Charles and Ray Eames' design combined male and female vision to produce results that are still surprising today. It is a timeless chair, iconic like few others, which has appeared in trendy television series: from Dr. House to Gossip girl and up to Orange is the new black. And it is present in the permanent collection of the MOMA in New York, and of other prestigious American museums.
The seat has also evolved over time, acquiring multiple color variations and finishes that add to the classic version and make it more versatile and current. But also with a larger version, designed by Vitra, in collaboration with the Eames office, in light of the average increase of almost 10cm in the height of the world population. In a town house, in front of a mountain fireplace but also a terrace overlooking the sea: the Eames Lounge Chair is a seat that fits perfectly into any environment, both classic and contemporary, because its design depth and comfort are instantly recognizable and are exactly what we need, whatever the environment we live in.
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