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Eames Executive Chair
Iconic Designs

Eames Executive Chair

About the Design

American chess grand master Bobby Fischer pronounced the Eames Executive chair to be so comfortable that he insisted it was the only chair he could concentrate on during his world championship match against Boris Spassky in Iceland in 1972. In the end, both Spassky and Fischer were seated on the lightweight aluminum and leather chairs that have been seen in offices around the world since the piece's debut in 1960.

Modern American design luminaries Charles and Ray Eames (1907–78; 1912–88) initially came up with the concept for the Executive chair at the request of Time Inc. founder Henry Luce for the lobbies of the Time & Life Building in Manhattan. Luce had asked the Eameses to design several of the property’s lobbies as a return favor for their use of the Time/Life photo library, to which they had been granted access for their film Glimpses of the U.S.A., first shown at the American National Exhibition in Moscow in 1959.

Conceived to be smaller than the now-famous Eames lounge chair, the Executive chair was versatile enough to be used as a conference-room chair while still extremely comfortable. Since then, the Eames Executive chair, which features three individual upholstered cushions, has become so synonymous with chic mid-century modernism that examples of it were used around the conference table on the set of the TV series Mad Men.

Charles and Ray Eames first met at Cranbrook Academy of Art in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan, where Ray was taking classes after studying painting with Hans Hofmann in New York. Charles had already established his own architecture practice in St. Louis, when he received a fellowship to Cranbrook and later headed its industrial design department.

After marrying in 1941, the newlyweds moved to Los Angeles, where they established the Eames Office and eventually built their lifelong residence, the Eames House in Pacific Palisades as part of the Case Study House Program.

Perhaps best known for their visionary work with molded plywood, the Eameses’ furniture designs, toys, graphic and textile designs, films and architecture truly transformed American interior design and furniture like almost no other designer of the 20th century. Many museums throughout the United States, such as the Museum of Modern Art in New York, hold examples of the Eames Executive chair in their permanent collections.

Herman Miller, the core business of which was office furnishings by the 1960s, continues to produce the Eames Executive chair. In Europe, the alluring leather swivel chair is manufactured by Vitra as the Eames Lobby chair.

Eames Executive Chair

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Soft pad chair by Charles and Ray Eames for Herman Miller
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Soft Pad EA 208 chair with aluminum frame and leather seat and back upholstery. Herman Miller manufacture. Manufacturer's mark present. 1970s.
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EA217 black Soft Pad Chair by Charles & Ray Eames for Herman miller, 1970s
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