These days, I’m swooning over those chairs that seem to be in every chic restaurant, hipster boutique, design firm office and mod pad: those Eames Eiffel chairs. I was searching Pinterest for decor ideas for my Palm Springs studio, and there those babes were. Home office? Eames chairs. Dining room? Eames chairs. Generic work space? Eames chairs. Literally. Swooning.
At first glance, they look kind of odd. There’s something offbeat about the dainty criss-crosses of the wiry legs supporting the clunky turtle shell of a seat. Other models come with wooden pirate peg legs.
On second glance, you can start to see the clever parallel between the chair’s legs and the stiff-legged beams of the Eiffel Tower. The industrial design is minimalist, no-fuss. When I lived in Portland, the design world was all over the industrial-made-chic aesthetic. Every variation of exposed Edison light bulbs, furniture made from reclaimed wood and heavy metal supports for coffee tables were abundant. If you take all that industrial roughness and shake it in a bottle with a swig of big-city sophistication, out pours the Eames Eiffel chair.
Though the chair is still popular today, it really isn’t anything new. In the mid-century, Charles and Ray Eames designed the chair – which doesn’t actually go by the nickname “Eiffel” – when they experimented with new materials and discovered plastic could mold more easily to the body’s shape. They’re still manufactured today, true to authentic standards, by Herman Miller for nearly $300. Or you can skip the splurge and find any one of the copycats. Overstock.com has them. So does Amazon.
The place where you sit your tush is a sacred one indeed, tasked with the double-duty of cushioning that very tender part of your body and of fitting into your home design. And as we’ve learned from the modern minimalism of Apple’s devices, function remains just as important as form in shaping the way we live.
So it’s no wonder that these industrial-looking chairs have held onto their preeminent status. The mid-century modern era and its architectural pantheons, to which the Eames couple undoubtedly belong, are making a resurgence after the fame of “Mad Men” and a general renewed interest in mid-century homes, design and architecture. An Eiffel chair rings true of that retro throwback, yet looks modern as ever. If only I could get my hands on one! Until then, I’ll just keep swooning.