University Museums

Title: DCW Chair
Name: Chair
Date: c. 1946
Period: Mid Century Modern
Medium: Natural Ash Plywood
Country/Culture: American
Dimensions: 31 × 21 in. (78.7 × 53.3 cm)
Classification: Furniture
Credit Line: Gift of Geitel Winakor. In the permanent collection, Brunnier Art Museum, University Museums, Iowa State University, Ames, Iowa.
Object Number: UM2007.80
More Information
Label #1:
The Eames Molded Plywood Lounge Chair (1946) has been referred to as the "most famous chair of the century," with a form that relates directly to the human body and holds no secrets as to how it succeeds technically. Low-slung, with an expertly crafted molded plywood seat and back, this chair cradles the user and features hardwood inner ply for durability. The molded plywood legs provide superior strength and rubber shock mounts buffer against jarring movement. Self-leveling pod glides level on uneven surfaces.
(Adapted from Design within Reach website, 2009)

"To whom does design address itself: to the greatest number, to the specialist of an enlightened matter, to a privileged social class? Design addresses itself to the need."-Charles Eames


Label #2: From "Subject to Change" exhibit.
Charles (American, b. 1907-1978) and Ray Eames (American, 1912-1988)
DCW Chair, 1950-1969
Natural ash plywood
Gift of Geitel Winakor. In the permanent collection, Brunnier Art Museum, University Museums, Iowa State University, Ames, Iowa.
UM2007.80

In the 1970s, Charles Eames presented an important design lecture series at Harvard University. Eames professed his viewpoint and philosophy of what he called the banana leaf parable, a banana leaf being the most basic dish off which to eat in southern India. He related the progression of design and its process to the transformation of the banana leaf. While it begins as plant material, it changes to a humanly adapted functional object with basic aesthetics relating to function and the essence of beauty.

Charles Eames developed an interest in architecture and engineering while studying in his hometown of St. Louis, Missouri. After being thrown out of Washington University for his advocacy of Frank Lloyd Wright, Eames started working in an architectural office. Ray Kaiser Eames studied in San Francisco before moving to New York to work on a project with Eames for the Museum of Modern Art. In 1941, Charles and Ray married. Together as artists, designers and filmmakers they were responsible for creating many classic, iconic designs of the 20th century. As with the early molded plywood chairs and furniture, the Eames' pioneered innovative technologies in fiberglass, plastic resins and wire mesh.