Released as part of the 1946 plywood group of furniture, CTW was the abbreviated name of the Coffee (C) Table (T) with a Wood (W) base. The table consisted of a circular five-layer plywood top, sat upon four matching legs of bent ply to a near 90 degrees.
The plywood group was the first to be released to the general market for adults by the Eames Office in 1946. The furniture was manufactured first by the Evans Molded Plywood Company and sold through distributor Herman Miller. Miller then bought and took over the range entirely from 1950.
The group was the first of many from the Eames Office to consist of identical tops and different bases to create varying choices. This would famously be a theme for Eames design and seen to an even greater scale with the fiberglass range. The CTW had two matching all wood chairs in the group, the dining DCW and the lounge LCW as well as a sister rectangular table, the OTW. The CTW and matching chairs were also replicated with metal legs and so named the CTM, DCM and LCM.
The tables were initially available with a choice of three natural veneers in Birch, Calico Ash and Walnut as well as a dyed red or black finish. After Herman Miller took over, they added a natural Oak to the list of available options. The tables were discontinued in 1954 but would be part of the re-release of classic Eames designs in 1994. These later versions would retain the 5 layers of ply in the table build but would use modern veneers including White Ash, new Walnut and Santos Palisander. The colored versions too would be a painted finish as opposed to the aniline dyes but into the 2010's and the use of dye is being used again with the plywood furniture.
|Top||5 layers of molded ply (Birch Core)|
|Finish||Calico Ash, Birch, Walnut and Oak, White Ash, Santos Palisander or dyed red or black|
|Base||Same 5 layers of bent molded plywood|
|Feet||Small circular silver feet are found only on some early Herman Miller made CTWs|
The lifespan of the Eames CTW table was relatively short given that it was released in 1946 and only ran through 1954. That said, those short years saw a number of significant changes to the manufacture of the table which we declare as 'generations'. Generations in this, and any other furniture design, were not intended at the time, nor likely considered, but we can pinpoint these characteristics to help us age and valuate what we have.
The edges of the CTW (and CTM) coffee table top, showing the 5 layers of molded plywood