Evolving furniture design

The Eames Recliner

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Yesterday I was sitting in a Eames laminated plywood recliner and thinking to myself about the process behind the chair.

It really is amazing when you think about it. This chair and possibly The Eames’ entire career spawned from a necessity. They were commissioned by the US military to design and build wooden splints for world war 2 using the laminated plywood technique, and shortly after evolved that expertise into making plywood furniture, as well as what could be considered one of the most famous chairs of all time.


See some other laminated plywood projects in my post here -Laminated Plywood

Human factors and ergonomics really became a thing during WW2. The military was pioneering this field in vehicles and planes, it’s awesome to see how this transferred from a military to a civilian field of study.

When designing splints the Eames’ obviously had to put a lot of thought into ergonomics and the best way to build these to fit a range of humans in the field. The same dedication to human factors shines in this lounge chair as well. I happen to fall into the average size that is designed around, for most US men my age. I even happen to have the “sample size foot” by shoe industry standards (which has landed me more than a few pairs of free sneakers from friends that work in shoe design, but that’s another story). I have to admit this chair is designed perfectly for my proportions and is super comfy!

Now for a little throwback to the only time I have dabbled in bent laminations in the past. I once made a DVD storage piece by creating a form, and then vacuum pressing multiple layers of birch ply together with probably excessive amounts of glue. I wanted to channel some of the old school jukebox vibe when the DVD’s were flipped across the rack. It actually came out pretty cool. Too bad it is now obsolete by Netflix and Hulu standards.

bent ply.JPG


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