In the Studio: Plywood Chair

[Plywood Chair (2011) /Image & Artwork: designslinger studio]

Ray and Charles Eames were the 20th century's greatest design team. They designed not one, but several of the most iconic pieces of furniture to be produced after the Second World War. The Plywood Chair was their first.

[Molded Plywood Chair (1946) Ray & Charles Eames, designers /Image & Artwork: designslinger studio]

Alexandra "Ray" Kaiser met her future husband while studying at Cranbrook Academy, where Charles Eames was teaching. After relocating to California, this dynamic duo of forward thinking designers and visual artists began experimenting with new forms in furniture design. The plastic nature of plywood, with its thin layers of pliable laminated wood, could be molded into the variety of shapes and sizes which suited their needs. During World War II they were asked by the U.S. Navy if they could come up with a design for light-weight, yet durable and strong plywood splint for leg injuries. The initial order for 5,000 molded-wood, leg-supporters grew to 150,000 by war's end.

[Plywood Chair - ink mix /Image & Artwork: designslinger studio]

In 1946 the Eames Molded Plywood Chair was first offered for sale by the Evans Furniture Company in California. From the get-go it was destined to become a classic. The chair immediately thrust the pair into the post-war, design-world limelight, and their careers at the forefront of mid-century modern design were off to an amazing start.

[Plywood Chair - drying /Image & Artwork: designslinger studio]

In exploring our personal faves of great chair design over the past 100 years or so, the Plywood Chair sits near the top of the list. It's curving shape and form is so elegantly simple, while at the same time so structurally complex. We saw our challenge in trying to capture that simplicity without losing important structural information. After numerous drawings from different angles, and with exposed white paper highlights carved into a corner here or an edge there, the slice along the seat edge hit the mark. Inked-up, with a little bit of salting to give the solid black ink more depth, we printed an edition, hung it to dry, and tackled the next the subject of our chair related obsession.

See the final product at: Plywood Chair.

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