Originally developed as an outdoor chair for the Eero Saarinen and Alexander Girard-designed home of industrialist J. Irwin Miller, the Eames Aluminium Group offers maximum comfort with a minimalist profile. Newly updated and featuring a range of highly durable finish options including Outdoor Weave fabric, the Aluminium Group Lounge Chair, Side Chair and Ottoman are once again ready to go back to where it all started – outdoors.
Herman Miller wins a Best of NeoCon Innovation Award for its re-engineering of the Eames Aluminium Group chairs.
What's In It For You
Take It Outside
To equip the chairs and ottoman for outdoor use, we developed a new fabric that would be durable enough to weather the elements whilst still feeling good against your skin when wearing a swimming costume. Designed by materials consultant Susan Lyons, Outdoor Weave retains the spirit of the original 1958 polyester plastic film and builds on the technical capabilities of the Aeron chair’s Pellicle suspension fabric. Outdoor Weave combines a sturdy mono-filament polypropylene for strength and elasticity, with four multi-filament polypropylene yarns to give it a great look and feel. It’s also recyclable and contains no harmful PVC. The fabric is available in four tones selected to complement the white and graphite satin powder-coated frames.
The assembly of each item in the Eames Aluminium Group Outdoor is as crucial an element of its design as how it feels to sit in. Charles and Ray Eames not only designed each element of the chairs and ottoman, but also the process by which they are crafted. We do it the same way today as it was done in 1958.
A continuous piece of Outdoor Weave is fed between the aluminium ribs, which are then turned inside out and attached to the cross members. Because of this process, the chair offers considerable comfort and support without any of the bulk or weight of a traditional upholstered chair. The fabric itself becomes the seat, with a firm, flexible “sitting pocket” that conforms subtly to the body’s shape.
Durability and Use
With one-piece, curved aluminium side ribs and a die-cast aluminium base, the chair is strong yet lightweight and easy to move (thanks to the upper cross member that doubles as a handle).
Available with or without arms, the Eames Aluminium Group Side Chair Outdoor is suitable for any location where a dining-height chair is called for, and naturally complements our range of Eames Tables Outdoor.
The Eames Aluminium Group Lounge Chair Outdoor goes perfectly with the matching Eames Aluminium Group Ottoman, or you can arrange multiple chairs around a low table to create an informal sitting area.
In 1953, the industrialist J. Irwin Miller and his wife Xenia commissioned a remarkable modernist triumvirate to create their home in Columbus, Indiana: Eero Saarinen designed the building, Alexander Girard masterminded the interiors and Dan Kiley handled the landscape architecture. Noting a dearth of viable outdoor furnishings, in 1957 Girard turned to his friends Charles and Ray Eames. Within a year, the Aluminium Group chairs were in production at Herman Miller.
Always looking to new industries and materials that could be suitably translated to the design of furniture, the Eameses turned to a material that was becoming ubiquitous in postwar America: aluminium. The major challenge of using aluminium was one of form. “When you’ve committed yourself to casting, you’ve committed yourself to a plastic material and the kind of freedom that can really give you the willies”, Charles Eames told Interiors magazine in 1958. “At that moment you find yourself face to face with sculpture, and it can scare the pants off you."
The Eameses arrived at a design calling for a fabric seat slung between two L-shaped aluminium elements, which in turn were held in tension by two cross-braces (referred to as “antlers” by the designers). In the chair’s earliest incarnation, a polyester plastic film covering (developed with Girard’s textiles division at Herman Miller) was employed so that the chair could be used outdoors. The plastic fabric was tripled in the high tension areas to prevent sagging and rolled neatly at the termination points of the chair. Despite the designers’ best efforts, the new material did not properly weather the elements or stand up to heavy use, and the Aluminium Group soon moved indoors and evolved to include a diverse range of variations.
Today the chairs and ottoman have been re-engineered for outdoor use with durable materials and finish options. Materials consultant Susan Lyons developed a new fabric, Outdoor Weave, that synthesises the look and feel of the original plastic film by building on the yarn and weaving technology pioneered with the Pellicle fabric on the Aeron chair. Unlike many outdoor fabrics, Outdoor Weave contains no PVC and will hold its shape and colour over time. White and graphite satin outdoor powder-coat frames, and a return to a 4-star base, complete the update.