(silvie luběnová) Fifty years ago – in 1958 – the Mon oncle movie by Jacques Tati entered cinemas, Christo started wrapping landscapes and houses, NASA was founded in the USA, and Vitra started manufacturing the Aluminium Chair designed by Charles and Ray Eames.
The group of afore-mentioned stars is no coincidence. When implementing the Aluminium Chair, Charles and Ray Eames abandoned the classical shape of the seat and stretched a netting (leather) between the side components, which adjusted to the contours of the chair and to a human body in a much better way than ever before.
Functionality, elaborated aesthetics, and a sense of detail enhanced the success of this chair which one can find literally all over the world – from one in the Institut du Monde Arabe in Paris (designed by Jean Nouvel) to Fiat Lingotto – the largest car-manufacturing factory in the world – in Turin (designed by Renzo Piano) to the Tate Modern in London (designed by Herzog & de Meuron). One can find it in public spaces, in private villas, and in the collections of such museums and galleries as MoMA in New York and the Centre Pompidou in Paris. The Redoutensaal in Hofburg, where the legendary meeting of John F. Kennedy and Nikita Khrushchev took place, is also furnished with Aluminium Chairs. Unfortunately, Winston Churchill died without having seen the Aluminium Chair. However, he must have anticipated its launch when he said: “We shape our buildings; thereafter they shape us\".
Nevertheless, it all started rather discreetly.
The founder of Vitra, Willi Fehlbaum, saw the Plywood chair designed by Eames in New York in 1953. He was absolutely astonished by it. He obtained the manufacturing rights for Europe from the Herman Miller Furniture Company and started manufacturing it in 1957. A year later, after Charles Eames had arrived in Europe, the new Aluminium Chairs initiated a close and friendly cooperation of the designer with the company. Vitra became the only authorized manufacturer of products designed by Charles and Ray Eames for Europe and the Near East. When Ray Eames died in 1988 (Charles died in 1978), the Vitra Design Museum became the owner of the complete product and 3D heritage of the Eames’ legacy. The vitra.eames travelling exhibition proves that it is quite a large heritage indeed. The exhibition shall stop in the Museum of Decorative Arts in Prague in October during Designblok.
The most important pieces from the collection demonstrate how design is linked to manufacturing technologies. Thus, visitors can see the process whose results we already admire. The exhibition shall be inaugurated by the grandson of Charles Eames, Dimitrios Eames. There is also a homonymous book with gorgeous graphic design and information accompanying the exhibition. Most of the products are still manufactured by Vitra.
The Alumunium Chair, which was originally designed for a villa in Columbus
(architects: Eero Saarinen and Alexander Girardi), can be purchase for prices starting at CZK 43,450. Apart from classical pieces, the portfolio also includes brand new pieces in softer colors designed by Hella Jongerius for the 50th anniversary of the Aluminium Chair.