One of Herman Miller's signature designs -- the Eames Lounge and Ottoman -- is marking its golden anniversary in 2006 with a classic celebration.
"It's a great opportunity to commemorate the enduring appeal of this timeless design and its half-century of continuous production," said Marg Mojzak, Director of Herman Miller for the Home.
Anniversary Exhibition and Book Developed by Grand Rapids Art Museum
The chair, designed by Charles and Ray Eames, will be the focus of a traveling exhibition that opens in May at the Museum of Arts & Design in New York and moves in October to the Grand Rapids Art Museum. Next year it visits The Henry Ford in Dearborn.
The exhibition, entitled The Eames Lounge Chair: An Icon of Modern Design, is organized by the Grand Rapids Art Museum and made possible by Herman Miller, Inc. It features an early production chair and ottoman that was used by Herman Miller's founder D.J. De Pree in his Zeeland, Michigan, home. It also will include an "exploded" 6-foot sculpture of the chair that shows each component of the design suspended -- from its molded plywood and rubber shock mounts to black leather cushions.
The museum exhibition, rare for a single piece of furniture, also will boast a 200-page hardcover book co-published by Merrell Press in London and the Grand Rapids Art Museum. The exhibition catalogue will include both vintage and contemporary photography and tributes to the Eames Lounge and Ottoman from six essayists.
Special media pieces supporting the exhibition include a short original film focused on current production of the chair by Eames Demetrios, the grandson of the Eameses. That segment will complement archival footage of the chair's high-profile introduction in 1956 on the set of NBC studios in New York. On the live program called The Home Show, Arlene Francis interviewed Charles and Ray Eames about their dramatically different approach to lounge seating
Golden Anniversary Celebration Includes Santos Palisander Edition
The 50th anniversary year is also the occasion for the introduction of a striking and richly grained veneer called Santos Palisander, a sustainably sourced tropical wood from Forest Stewardship Council certified forests.
The original Eames Lounge and Ottoman was produced with a lustrous rosewood veneer on the molded plywood shell, but Herman Miller shifted to cherry and walnut veneers in 1991 due to environmental concerns surrounding the harvesting of certain tropical woods in rainforests.
From January though April, the Santos Palisander version of the chair can be ordered only through the Eames Foundation, based in Southern California. The foundation is a non-profit organization whose mission is to support the creative legacy of Charles and Ray Eames, and to preserve the Case Study House #8 in Pacific Palisades, CA, designed by the Eameses in the late 1940s.
The Eames Foundation edition of the Eames Lounge and Ottoman will be upholstered in an exclusive black leather from Edelman Leather and will be made available for a contribution of $6,500 (with $3,250 tax deductible) to the Foundation. Donors will receive the Santos Palisander edition numbered and marked with a medallion in observance of the 50th anniversary. They also will receive a one-year foundation membership, a DVD of the Eames Demetrios film on the production of the chair, and a copy of the museum exhibition book signed by Eames family members.
"Herman Miller has benefited from its long partnership with Charles and Ray Eames," said Brian Walker, Herman Miller's President and CEO. "It's an honor to make available this special edition of the Eames' best-known design to provide important financial support for the work of the Eames Foundation."
The Santos Palisander veneer will be available at a retail price of $3,995 through Herman Miller for the Home's channel of retailers and e-tailers beginning in May. Throughout the anniversary year, all Eames Lounge chairs -- no matter the veneer -- will be marked with the special medallion. The Eames Lounge and Ottoman also is available through Herman Miller's contract dealers, and they will begin selling the Santos Palisander veneer in May, as well.
Herman Miller Preserves 'Integrity of the Original Design'
"Through the decades, the chair has defined comfort and elegance," said Eames Demetrios, who oversees the Eames Office. "Charles and Ray would be very pleased to see that their handiwork continues to provide so much pleasure for people. And they would celebrate the fact that 50 years later Herman Miller is continuing to invest in the Eames Lounge and Ottoman to preserve the integrity of the original design and safeguard its future."
Added Herman Miller for the Home's Mojzak: "We have many wonderful and classic designs at Herman Miller for the Home, but for many people the Eames Lounge and Ottoman is arguably the most recognized and coveted. We're thrilled to celebrate 50 years of enduring style and beauty -- and we expect that it will only grow in popularity during the next half century."
Herman Miller helps create great places to work, heal, learn, and live by researching, designing, manufacturing, and distributing innovative interior solutions that support companies, organizations, and individuals all over the world. The company's award-winning products, complemented by furniture management and strategic consulting services, generated over $1.51 billion in revenue during fiscal 2005. Herman Miller is widely recognized for both its innovative products and business practices. In fiscal 2004, Herman Miller was named recipient of the prestigious National Design Award for product design from the Smithsonian Institution's Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum. In 2005, the company was again included in Business Ethics magazine's "100 Best Corporate Citizens" and was cited by Fortune magazine as the "Most Admired" company in its industry. The company trades on the NASDAQ market under the symbol MLHR.