Vitra - a story of love, modernism and sustainability

Charles and Ray Eameses’ legacy feels as modern, forward-thinking and relevant today as it did in their mid-century modern heyday. Applied to a myriad of formats the iconic husband-and-wife brand made beautiful things, inspired by nature and that were made to last. 

Their relationship too was enchanting, curious, equal, co-creative in a time when that wasn’t so common. Today, we have the Eames Foundation, created by their daughter and run today by their numerous grandchildren to preserve the truly modern conversation they expressed through their art.

As we become more conscious consumers, we can see that the Vitra Organic Chair had a huge impact back when it was designed in 1940 but it was only produced sixty-four years later.



The Organic Chair is a small and comfortable reading chair – and was developed in several versions for the 1940 'Organic Design in Home Furnishings' competition organised by the Museum of Modern Art in New York. With its sculptural shapes, the design was ahead of the times. But due to the absence of suitable manufacturing techniques, the armchair never went into production. Not until 1950 did it become possible to manufacture and market organically shaped seat shells in large quantities, as exemplified by Charles and Ray Eames's famous Plastic Armchair or Saarinen's Tulip Chair.

The purpose of the competition was to discover design talent and to involve them in creating a better environment for modern living. 



It was here that Charles Eames and Eero Saarinen were preparing their entries for six chairs; they were both design instructors at Cranbrook Academy of Art in Michigan at the time. It was here that Charles met art student Ray Caise who was helping with the entries.

As Vitra say:

“The seminal impact of the Organic Chair on American design during the era of mid-century modernism is often underestimated today. This design represents the starting point for an idea that was successfully implemented in other pieces of furniture over the ensuing years. Its development led to personal encounters that shaped the further course of design history.”

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