LCW (Lounge Chair Wood)

Charles and Ray Eames

Design: 1945
Production: 1946 - 57
Manufacturer: Molded Plywood Division
of the Evans Products Company, Venice,
California, for Herman Miller Furniture
Company, Zeeland, Michigan
Size: 68 x 56 x 62; seat height 39 cms
Material: molded plywood, rubber

Following the MoMA’s “Organic Design in Home Furnishings” exhibition, Charles and Ray Eames continued to advance the three-dimensional molding of plywood. In December 1941, an acquaintance of theirs, Dr.Wendel G. Scott, called to their attention the fact that the Navy had no suitable leg splints for injured soldiers. In just over a year, Charles and Ray Eames were able to produce appropriate prototypes, and in November 1942 received the Navy’s first order for 5,000 molded plywood leg splints. Together with former colleagues, they set up a production company and research lab, the Plyformed Wood Company. Further commissions followed from the army, and Charles Eames became head of research in the Molded Plywood Division at the Evans Product Company, which, among other things, developed molded plywood parts for airplanes. He and his staff acquired valuable technological experience which proved useful when they began concentrating on civil projects after the war was over. Their interest continued to focus on the development and production of inexpensive, fashionable furniture while taking into account the general scarcity of raw materials. The plywood technology met two criteria: it ensured frugal use of materials and offered comfort, for the furniture was molded to the human body. The “DCW” (Dining Chair Wood) and the “LCW” were the first items to enjoy high popularity. The “Organic Armchair”, from 1940–1, had already revealed the difficulties involved in forming a complete chair shell with complex curve radii from plywood. The Eameses treated the different functions of the shell independently, so that the convex forms did not have to be as strong. Furthermore, the modular character of the design yielded a number of possible combinations of the seat and backrest, with various foot rests available either in laminated wood or metal. These were initially attached with elastic rubber shock mounts that were firmly welded to the wood using a modified Chrysler process. In the autumn of 1945, Molded Plywood Division produced a number of chairs and armchairs from a wide variety of woods, with fabric, imitation leather, leather, or hide coverings for the seat and backrest; Evans Products organized marketing and distribution. The prototypes were presented to the press in December 1945 at a preview showing at the Barclay Hotel in New York. In February 1946 they were displayed at an Architectural League exhibition and finally, in March 1946, in a solo MoMA exhibition entitled “New Furniture – Designed by Charles Eames” in New York. While Evans Products delayed expanding its furniture branch, the new design director at the Herman Miller Furniture Company, George Nelson, came across the plywood furniture as a result of these publicity activities. The companies worked out a cooperation agreement in which the Molded Plywood Division guaranteed production and Herman Miller took over marketing. Serial production began in mid-1946. The unusually high degree of publicity which Herman Miller Furniture achieved with the Eames Plywood Collection induced the company to acquire the production rights in 1949. At that point, Charles Eames had already been working as a design consultant for Herman Miller for two years. PD

Designer:
Charles and Ray Eames

Charles and Ray Eames LCW (Lounge Chair Wood)