What is this?
Form constructed of five shaped pieces of laminated and bent wood: contoured trapezoidal seat and back; front legs made from single narrow strip, horse-shoe shaped and tapered; shorter back legs made in same manner. Legs, seat and back connected by continuous wide ribbon of plywood. Shellacked.
Why is this important?
Icon of modern design husband-and-wife design team Charles and Ray Eames wanted to create a single-shell, molded-plywood chair, for which no manufacturing system yet existed. In 1941, in their Los Angeles apartment, the Eameses developed a curing oven—using scrap woods and spare bicycle parts—that heated and pressurized thin layers of resin-soaked wood, which could be molded into shapes. They used the machine—dubbed Kazam!—to develop a leg splint and aircraft parts for the US Navy during World War II. They then applied this experience to postwar commercial furniture production. Scrapping the idea for a single-shell chair as impractical and expensive, the Eameses designed a line of molded-plywood furniture, including the DCW. The chair’s parts, back, seat, and legs are attached with rubber shock mounts via a special adhesive, so screws are not visible from the front, adding to its lightness and elegance. Producer Herman Miller eventually reduced the molding process to ten minutes, plus time for finishing work, helping to keep prices low and accessible to middle-class Americans in search of modern household furnishings.
This object has been included in the following exhibitions: