Charles Eames, An Essay by Eliot Noyes
There is no need to qualify the statement. Charles Eames has designed and produced the most important group of furniture ever developed in this country. His achievement is a compound of aesthetic brilliance and technical inventiveness. He has not only produced the finest chairs of modern design, but through borrowing, improvising, and inventing techniques, he has for the first time exploited the possibilities of mass production methods for the manufacture of furniture.
Naturally he wanted his furniture to be as comfortable and useful as possible, because he never forgot that he was making his designs for use. This very direct approach made it comparatively simple. He never worried much (as many designers do) about “what the public wants,” or “what the public will accept,” because he had a profound belief in the public, and the conviction that if they didn’t want or wouldn’t accept the furniture which he was designing for their use, the fault lay in his designs, not in the public. He knew very well the absurdity of trying to design to an assumed public taste. It is important to realize that the furniture is an expression of this direct approach; each piece is composed as much of the personal ingredients of Charles Eames as of wood and metal. If you examine this furniture you will find sincerity, honesty, conviction, affection, imagination, and humor.
The collection includes a wide variety of pieces, using wood and metal as basic materials. There are many types of chairs both for indoors and outdoors, for dining and for conversation, for reading or relaxing.
The success with which lightness and elegance have been combined with strength enhances this articulation. The marvelously clean details of the connections have made it possible for chair frames to be clearly expressed as distinct elements to which seats and backs are neatly and simply attached. To this revealed structure, Eames has added sensitive seat and back forms which give each chair the quality of a brilliant piece of abstract sculpture. On some, the thin metal members are linear elements of a composition in which the seat and back become subtle forms whose shapes and relationship change constantly and delightfully as one walks around the chair. This effect is intensified by the use of a broad range of wood textures, colors, and metal finishes, which also provide a great variation of mood in the pieces.
The enthusiasm which Eames’ furniture has aroused through its first showings and through publication has been equaled only by the impatience of the public, which is ready to buy as much of it as can be turned out. We are all eagerly awaiting its appearance.