When it comes to furniture, Herman Miller is a top choice as it is a brand known for stylish, comfortable and most importantly, ergonomic products.
One such example is the Herman Miller Aeron chair which we endorse wholeheartedly. There have been no regrets over two such chairs purchased as sitting on the Herman Miller Aeron chair while working is a daily affair, whether in the office or at home. The Aeron chair was designed by Bill Stumpf (1936 to 2006).
Interest was therefore piqued when realising that the “Essential Eames: A Herman Miller Exhibition” had recently begun at the ArtScience Museum at Marina Bay Sands in Singapore. The exhibition will run till 5 January 2014.
Thankfully, for those wishing to visit the exhibition at around this time, the haze situation in the region has improved with the PSI or Pollution Standard Index in Singapore standing at between 31 and 38 at the time of writing. At such levels, the air quality is classified as “good”, according to Singapore’s National Environment Agency.
The air quality had crossed into hazardous territory (defined as PSI of above 300) less than two weeks ago and visibility, including areas around the Marina Bay Sands area were affected. [Refer to images of Marina Bay Sands and the ArtScience Museum in the article: Blancpain Fifty Fathoms Bathyscaphe: depth issues?]
The exhibition is based on the book An Eames Primer and according to the organisers, “traces the life and work of the famous husband-and-wife [Charles and Ray Eames] design team” and showcases “a number of rare and never-before-seen works and images from the Eames family collection, the Eames Office and the archives of Herman Miller.”
An Eames Primer is written by the grandson of Charles and Ray Eames, Eames Demetrios, who also curated the exhibition.
Charles Eames (1907 to 1978) and his wife Ray Kaiser (1912 to 1988) are regarded as the “two most important American designers of all time,” notes Eames Demetrios. The exhibition “presents some of the most celebrated and recognisable works by art and design’s first couple,” he adds.
More than 100 examples of their work are being exhibited. These include the Lounge Chair Wood of 1945, the Moulded Plastic Chair and the Eames Executive Chair.
One particular exhibit that caught our attention in particular was the one explaining celestial mechanics where a ball is launched into a concave bowl with a hole at the bottom. Instead of falling straight in, the ball circles around the bowl for several times before falling into the hole.
This display is from an exhibition Charles and Ray Eames designed and developed for IBM in the 1960s called Mathematica: A World of Numbers… and Beyond for the new wing of the California Museum of Science and Industry. The exhibition is still relevant and Mathematica is on permanent display at the Boston Museum of Science and the New York Hall of Science.
How does Herman Miller come into the picture? Well, Charles and Ray Eames were hired by Herman Miller, the company owned by Dirk Jan de Pree and named after his father-in-law.
Charles and Ray Eames designed not only furniture for the brand but its showroom in West Hollywood and the company’s first stock certificate. Even the home of Dirk Jan de Pree’s son, Max de Pree, was designed by Charles and Ray Eames in 1955.
Many of the iconic furniture pieces designed by Charles and Ray Eames and marketed and sold under the Herman Miller branding are on display.
One of the most popular and iconic furniture is Herman Miller’s luxurious Eames Lounge Chair and Ottoman which was designed and created in 1956. By 1976, more than 100,000 sets of the Eames Lounge Chair and Ottoman had been sold.
The aim of the exhibition is to “introduce people to the breadth, pleasure and richness of the Eames’ work” and to “share… some of the beautiful ideas behind the work; ideas that are not simply vehicles for the creation of objects but for everyday living,” says Eames Demetrios.
The exhibition is the result of a three-year collaboration between Herman Miller and the Eames Office, and based on the book An Eames Primer.
Interestingly, it was the director of design at Herman Miller, George Nelson, who in 1948 made the specific request to owner Dirk Jan de Pree that Charles and Ray Eames be hired by the company.
Speaking of the late post-war period of the 1940s, two watch brands come instantly to mind: the first is Vulcain which launched its famed Cricket watch in 1947.
President Harry Truman, the thirty-third president of the United States (from 1945 to 1953), was given a Vulcain Cricket watch.
President Dwight D. Eisenhower, the thirty-fourth president of the United States (in office from 1953 to 1961), was also presented with one. He was known to have worn his Vulcain Cricket watch “conspicuously.”
Little wonder why the Vulcain Cricket watch is also known as the “US President’s Watch”, especially since it was also worn by other US Presidents such as Richard Nixon and Lyndon Johnson.
The second is the Omega Seamaster which was launched in 1948. Omega’s Seamaster is the civilian version of the watch originally made for and supplied to Britain’s Royal Air Force during the Second World War.
Omega’s Seamasters are highly popular and one modern version is the Planet Ocean 600m GoodPlanet seen below. Another 2013 model is the Seamaster Bullhead (refer to the article: Omega Bullhead – No Bull.)
If we consider design as the priority, then what must be mentioned is Nomos Glashütte’s Tangente Datum. In January 2013, Nomos Glashütte announced that its Tangente Datum secured the 2012 Good Design Award from the Chicago Athenaeum Museum of Architecture and Design.
This Good Design Award for products originated in 1950 when Charles and Ray Eames, Eero Saarinen and Edgar Kaufmann, Jr first handed out the prize in Chicago.
We did not see the Herman Miller Aeron chair at the exhibition. Anyway, it was Bill Stumpf who designed it. Nonetheless, the Aeron chair is part of the Herman Miller DNA and philosophy. It is what we believe Charles and Ray Eames would agree with their grandson, Eames Demetrios, as an object designed for everyday living.