Tuesday, May 16, 2006

The Legendary Eames Lounge and Ottoman Marks Golden Anniversary at ICFF 2006

Golden Anniversary Coincides with Introduction of Santos Palisander Veneer

One of Herman Miller's signature designs--the Eames Lounge and Ottoman--is marking its golden anniversary in 2006 with a classic celebration that will reverberate through New York City during the annual International Contemporary Furniture Fair from May 20 to 23.

"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.

The chair is the centerpiece of Herman Miller for the Home's ICFF display, located in Booth 1012 on the exhibition floor of the Jacob Javits Convention Center in New York. The booth will feature a glittering collection of seven Eames Lounge Chairs, including three of them with commissioned cushion covers rendered by three artisans and designers from Switzerland, Korea and the U.S. There also will be four Lounge chairs outfitted in a new sustainable tropical veneer.

The chair, designed by Charles and Ray Eames, also is the focus of a traveling exhibition that opened May 18 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 includes 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 boasts a 200-page hardcover book co-published by Merrell Press in London and the Grand Rapids Art Museum. The exhibition catalogue includes 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 complements 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.

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.

The santos palisander veneer is available at a price of $3,995 through Herman Miller for the Home's channel of retailers and e-tailers. Throughout the anniversary year, all Eames Lounge chairs will be marked with a special commemorative medallion. The Eames Lounge and Ottoman also is available through Herman Miller's contract dealers.

"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 2006, 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.

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