Cliff Kuang, founding editor of Co.Design, recently published a piece about the production of a handmade Eames Chair. He discloses that the process of the Eames lounge or LCW chair is predominantly man-made and is identical to the methods used by Charles and Ray Eames 65 years ago.
Kuang shares that some changes have been made, for the better:
The curing for binding the plywood has changed; the niggles of creating a “shock mount” that joins a metal leg to the body of a curved piece of wood has been perfected. (If you’ve ever seen an old Eames lounge chair, that shock mount is the culprit for the arms usually falling off after 20 years.) And the cow hides used in the chairs are cut by an enormous computer-guided machine, which scans the leather and figures out exactly how many upholstery pieces can be wrung out of it, and cuts the pattern accordingly. It looks like an oversized air hockey table.
Despite the changes, much of the chair is made by employees. For instance, a seamstresses adjust the cowhide and an employee matches up the wood grains to make sure the chair is aesthetically pleasing.
Mike Kuperus, the plant manager at the factory, told Kuang that they essentially have no turnover among the employees. “People who have been here for 10 years will still come to me and say, ‘Look at this before I box it up,'” he says. “They appreciate the pieces as much or even more than the end consumer.”
Source and photos courtesy FastCoDesign.