From the first plywood series of furniture released in 1946, CTM was the abbreviated name for the Coffee (C) Table (T) with a Metal (M) base. The Eames CTM coffee table consisted of a circular top made purely from 5 layers of molded plywood and a chrome leg base frame.
The circular top of the Eames CTM table was designed with a pronounced edge leading into a slight incline towards the center. Not only did this provide a visually interesting detail but also a means to keeping placed items from being knocked off or falling from the table.
The 1946 plywood series of tables and chairs were the first adult Eames designs to be released to the market place, as a joint venture between the Eames Office and the Evans Molded Plywood Company. The series would also be the first to use the concept of utilizing varying bases with identical tops in order to create variety and choice. The metal leg CTM coffee table was matched with the LCM (Lounge) and DCM (Dining) chairs, and their equivalent wood based models were the CTW, DCW and LCW.
The Evans made tables were initially available in 3 natural veneers and two aniline dyed colors of red and black. Once Herman Miller took over ownership and production of the series in 1950 they added a further wood finish and the ability to choose a black frame as well as the original chrome. The table would have a fairly short lifespan and ran only until 1957 when it was discontinued. Fans of the design would have to wait some 50 years until it was re-issued by Herman Miller in 2007.
|Top||5 layers of molded plywood (7 on post 2004 re-release)|
|Top Finish||Birch, Walnut, Calico Ash - Later Oak, White Ash, Santos Palisander|
|Base||Chrome or Black Powder Coated|
|Feet||Domes of silence, Push on boots, nylon floor glides|
Generations in any furniture design are entirely open to interpretation and are almost better being described as tweaks and natural developments than fully blown 'generations' as most were not intended. Many are improvements, changes due to components or new finishes and materials. But there is benefit to trying to define them, as it helps the collector, buyer and seller to recognize what they have, date and of course value the piece they own.
First generation underside depicts the ring frame and 3 legs of the CTM
First Generation - Evans Molded Plywood
The first CTM tables are very clearly recognizable as they have only three legs and a circular frame onto which the legs are welded.
Following varying prototype constructions, the first production models used the circular underframe attached via shockmounts.
The Evans made tables of this type were sometimes labelled, some may be found with paper or medal labels, the majority merely had the model scrawled onto the underside of the top.
The legs were only available in chrome and the feet were the 'domes of silence', a rubber and aluminum mix foot used on all of the early plywood series.
Estimated years 1946
Second generation of the Evans CTM shows the crossed 4 legs welded at the center
Second Generation - Evans Molded Plywood
The CTM was changed to stand on 4 legs from the previous 3-legged version.
The entire chrome frame and underside design of the table was replaced, with the new version consisting of two pieces welded in the center where they cross. The two support slats were also removed and circular rubber shock mounts employed instead.
The second generations generally have the Evans Foil label which they had settled on for the majority of the series production.
The generation retained the 'domes of silence' feet.
Estimated years 1946-1949
The first Herman Miller made CTM with two pieces of right angle tubular frame and push on boot glides
Third Generation - Herman Miller
Herman Miller, whom had been distributor for the Evans made series, took over ownership and manufacturing. They proceeded to change the base design once again.
The generation went back to the first Evans type with two support slats on the underside and removed the shock mounts. But instead of using two pieces that crossed in the center they cleverly utilized two metal pieces bent at right angles, on their side which could be screwed nice and flat to the support slats.
Early Miller tables may have the model name CTM stamp impressed into the underside of the top. They also began with domes of silence but quickly moved into using push on boot glides.
Estimated years 1950-1957
The modern version of the Eames CTM with modern self correcting floor glides
Fourth Generation - Herman Miller
Following a discontinuation spanning 50 years Herman Miller re-released the table in 2007. The design remains largely unchanged from that of its vintage predecessor apart from one or two small variations.
The newer editions will be easily identified with modern labels and date tags.
The feet of the table are the modern self correcting nylon 'floor glides' which remain the most notable difference to vintage versions. Newer finishes also include the modern Walnut and Santos Palisander veneer
Estimated years 2007-Present
The feet of the Eames CTM table on the early Evans and very first Herman Miller made tables were the 'domes of silence' before being replaced with push on boots (image courtesy of D Rose Modern)
Early Evans Eames CTM Table with a Walnut plywood top and Chrome base (image courtesy of D Rose Modern)
First generation profile of the Eames CTM table with the silver chrome ring section on the underside
The 1948 Herman Miller catalog depicts the available finishes of the (still made by Evans) CTM tables
The convex design of the top is seen in this photograph from above, designed to retain items placed onto it (image courtesy of D Rose Modern)