Eames Show a Haven for Furniture Fans
Tasa Nugraza Barley
In the world of design, Americans Charles and Ray Eames are legends. The husband and wife team have made major contributions in their chosen field by producing award-winning furniture that helped introduce the concept of ergonomics and emphasized an attractive, modern aesthetic.
An exhibition chronicling the couple’s lives and work is now open to the public at the Gandaria City Mall in South Jakarta.
“The Herman Miller Essential Eames” is a collaboration between the Eames Office and Herman Miller, a manufacturer in the United States that produces many of the Eames’ designs.
During a news conference last week, Eames Demetrios, the grandson of Charles and Ray, said the exhibition was crafted around his own book, “An Eames Primer,” which chronicles the design innovations of the famous couple.
Demetrios said his grandparents were obsessed with creating products that were not only beautiful, but also comfortable and built to last a lifetime. He said his grandparents took the process of designing very seriously.
“They really loved what they were doing,” he said.
The exhibition is arranged into different sections, with each telling a different story in the Eames’ history. The first section focusses on the genesis of Charles and Ray’s journey. As a teenager, Charles worked in construction and got his introduction to labor, drawing, architecture and engineering. He studied architecture at the Cranbrook Academy of Art in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan, where he became a lecturer.
Meanwhile, Ray Kaiser was a student at Cranbrook studying painting and textile design. The two eventually married and moved to Los Angeles, where they built the revolutionary Eames home, which is still considered a masterpiece of modern architecture.
Visitors to the exhibition can see many of the couple’s creations, such as the Eames molded plastic chairs, first introduced to the world in 1948 and copiously copied since.
Charles and Ray believed that comfort was as important as aesthetics. Demetrios said the shell seats of the Eames chair had high, flexible backs, deep seat pockets and waterfall front edges, all of which make for a comfortable sit, even during long periods of time. The chair’s unique leg design keeps it steady and level, even on an uneven floor.
The chairs are now produced using 100 percent recyclable polypropylene, making them environmentally friendly.
Visitors can also view pieces from manufacturer Herman Miller, cited by Fortune magazine as the “most admired” in the furniture production industry.
The “Essential” exhibition also features one of the first Aeron chairs, one of Herman Miller’s hallmark products considered revolutionary in design when it was introduced some 16 years ago. The Aeron has been called the king of office chairs and is part of the permanent collection at the Museum of Modern Art in New York.
With its ergonomic design, the Aeron is adaptable to the various sizes and shapes of people, and with its suspension and adjustment controls it absorbs a variety of motions and strains as the occupant sits and adjusts in it.
According to the chair’s brochure, the Aeron “supports the way your pelvis tilts naturally forward, so that your spine stays aligned, helping you avoid back pain.”
Visitors can also see the SAYL chair, which is the latest generation of Herman Miller chairs that features a meshed back meant to keep its occupants cool during long sitting sessions. By itself, the SAYL is an attractive, modern-looking piece of furniture, to say nothing about its contribution to ergonomics.
Jeremy Hocking, vice president of international marketing at Herman Miller, was excited about the exhibition showcasing his company’s products. Because of its swelling economic growth, Hocking said Indonesia was a very important market for Herman Miller in the future.
“We believe Indonesia will be a significant market for us in five or 10 years,” he said.
Herman Miller’s products are currently distributed by Forum Indonesia.
Hocking hopes Indonesians will learn and be inspired by the high-quality products of Herman Miller and Eames office products.
The “Herman Miller Essential Eames” exhibition is currently on an Asian tour. Last year, the exhibition attracted more than 15,000 visitors in Hong Kong.
The show’s next stops will be in Singapore and Tokyo.
“The Herman Miller Essential Eames”
Until June 22
Gandaria City, Ground Level