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26 September 2023
A new selection of reissues of the designer duo’s most iconic pieces
Revolutionary, concrete, forerunners: Charles and Ray Eames were one of the most influential couples in 20th century design and still today their experimental scope has strong relevance both on a formal and design level. Both Americans, they met in the 1930s at the Cranbrook Academy of Art, directed by Eliel Saarinen and breeding ground for the most important designers of the time, including Harry Bertoia, Florence Knoll and Eero Saarinen. The atmosphere of the school stimulates experimentation and mental openness as well as the rapprochement between Charles and Ray who get married in 1942 and move to California. They immediately identified what their design direction would be: the use of plywood, fiberglass and aluminum and the study of color intended not only as a decoration tool but also as a useful element for transmitting information about space and objects. Avant-garde intuitions whose design depth is still appreciated today and to which Vitra has decided to pay tribute with the Eames Special Collection 2023 by re-editing a selection of their most iconic projects. These are La Chaise, Eames Elephant, Eames Wool Blanket, Eames House Bird and Organic Conference Chair proposed with new finishes, fabrics and colors to rediscover their history, beauty and innovative scope.
La Chaise 1948
2023 marks the seventy-fifth anniversary of this project created for a competition organized by the Museum of Modern Art in New York, which Vitra has put into production since the 1990s. The idea of the Eames was domestic and experimental at the same time: the formal inspiration is the surrealist art that can be read in the sinuous, organic, and asymmetrical lines of the body. In particular, the designers start from a work by the sculptor Gaston Lachaise entitled “Floating figure” which represents a woman’s body in a semi-reclining position, a body that seems almost complementary to the designed seat. The dimensions are large and allow different sitting positions and the shell also has a hole: it is said that it was inserted to allow a child to read a book and at the same time cuddle the dog’s head. The special edition, limited at 75 pieces, is in the original parchment color with a walnut base.
Eames Elephant 1945
Charles e Ray Eames avevano una visione ampia del design che non si limitava alla progettazione dell’arredo in senso stretto. Elephant, infatti, è un giocattolo in multistrato che non entrò in produzione: solo un prototipo fu messo in esposizione al Moma di New York. Nel 2007 Vitra lancia un’edizione limitata che riscuote un successo tale da portare, nel 2013, alla produzione in serie. Eames Elephant entra nella Eames Special Collection 2023 con una finitura nuova di mordente verde scuro che lascia intravedere le venature del legno.
Plywood Mobiles 1941
Early on in their shared journey, Charles and Ray Eames work to improve multilayer modeling techniques. In doing so, they create two abstract objects that they decide to hang from the ceiling of their Los Angeles apartment. This is how the Plywood Mobiles were born, elements halfway between play and decoration that evoke not only the experimental forms of the early days but also the habit of treating surfaces with paint to protect the material and highlight shapes and features. The Eames Special Collection 2023 offers two color variants: pale pink + red and pale pink + burgundy.
Eames Wool Blanket 1947
Ray Eames, in his artistic vein, experimented with geometric shapes and color combinations. The fruit of this visual research was also translated into a series of fabrics, including the motif of crosses and Dot Pattern points, exhibited in an exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art in New York. Design taken from the Wool Blanket in merino wool with jacquard yarn, in the burgundy version in the Eames Special Collection 2023.
Eames House Bird
Like many other projects, the House Bird is based on something the Eames had imagined for their own home. This wooden bird was simply a pet domestic figure and often appeared in the photos they took. In the Eames Special Collection 2023 it is proposed in dark green and pale pink.
Organic Conference (1940 with Eero Saarinen)
The Organic Conference, a chair designed by Charles Eames and Eero Saarinen, is also included in the Eames Special Collection 2023. The occasion, once again, is an initiative of the Museum of Modern Art in New York, and in particular a competition dedicated to organic design. Although on that occasion the project was awarded, it was not possible, at the time, to put the chair into production. It will be Vitra himself, in 2004, to rediscover this model and bring to fruition the idea of the two designers. The version included in the Eames Special Collection 2023 involves Ray Eames’ passion for flower arrangements and therefore offers the seat with a new floral upholstery in three versions by Kvadrat.
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