There has been and probably still is much confusion over what is considered to be contemporary design, and what is considered modern design. So, what are they and where does Eames furniture fit in?
Modern interior design is best placed in the mid-century, post II World War Era. Whereas contemporary is anything that fits into the current timeframe of an interior design enthusiast.
Eames furniture fits completely into the description of Modern interior design along with other contemporaries such as Arne Jacobsen who, in collaboration with Fritz Hansen designed the Series 7 plywood chairs in 1955. Arne, an architect by trade was better known for his furniture than his buildings and the production of the Series 7 and the Ant Chair propelled both him and Hansen into the furniture design history books.
George Nelson a colleague of the Eameses worked to move American furniture design and manufacture away from the historical precedents that had previously been set. He wanted to drag the industry into the future and this can be seen clearly in his furniture as well as his very unique clock designs. The Starburst clock designed in the 1950s, was an iconic time-keeper that was quickly produced and sold by Herman Miller along with the likes of the Ball Clock and the Eye Clock. To find one in working condition is very rare and would be considered an investment piece to be proud of.
Harry Bertoia was a gifted artist. He was a painter, a sculptor and a designer and his pieces stand alone in their style as an amalgamation of everything that Bertoia seemed to love. The Diamond Chair is a thing of beauty and can be enjoyed visually as much as it can physically.
Verner Panton, equally great in design, focused more on colour and geometric fabric which highlighted his passion for the connection with the space around him. His best known design the Panton Chair was created in 1967 and his designs even influence contemporary fashion design (Moschino spring 2013 for example).
The interesting things to note about all of these designers was their fanaticism to create objects and designs that were out of convention. The Second World War had created hardship and many people were facing the challenge of rebuilding their lives. Perhaps this was a line in the sand for these creatives, to realign expectations and give people something that they had never had. All of the characters mentioned are artists at heart, creative and ground-breaking in their thought processes and desire to break the confines of the norm and what had gone before. They all experimented with similar materials; plywood, metal and plastics. Some might have been more outspoken than others but it has to be said there was an undeniable thirst to make things that mattered to people and at no point did they seem to want to stop the flow of ingenuity.
Photos by Faye Hedges