Released in 1946, OTW was the acronym for the Oblong (O) Table (T) with a Wood (W) base. The Eames OTW Table was first manufactured by the Evans Plywood Company from the premises of the Eames Office in Venice, California. The table was actually first christened the CTW-1 (Coffee Table Wood), the same acronym letters as the circular table which was CTW-3 but the name was changed in 1950 to avoid confusion.
Like all of the plywood furniture released in that first wave of Eames designs, the Eames OTW table was made with 5 thin layers of ply, fused together to create a strong and interesting new form. The tops of these Eames plywood coffee tables were made available with either a natural wooden veneer or a black plastic Formica for extra durability.
Herman Miller provided the marketing and distribution for the Evans plywood products, including the OTW, from the outset in 1946 until their role would be greatly increased. In 1949 they agreed to purchase the portfolio from Evans and Herman Miller made versions would begin in and around 1950. There is very little difference between the Evans and Miller OTW tables other than a few visible differences (outlined in the generation section) and the change of model acronym.
The core of the plywood layers in all the Evans and Herman Miller products was Birch. The Eames OTW table was always supplied only with Birch legs but the top was available in Birch, Walnut or the black Formica.
The post 2001 re-issue of the OTW has an ever so slightly different dimension. The table stands at 14" high (1.5" smaller than the original), is a little longer at 36" and slimmer at 22" wide. Herman Miller also make an XL version which is 48" long and 22" wide, still 14" high.
|5 layers of Birch Core plywood
|Natural Birch, Walnut or Black Formica
|5 layer Birch plywood
The Herman Miller re-issues since 2001 have been made in a variety of differing finishes which were not available during the 1940's and 1950's, including 2 versions of white for the first time. They also made a similar black laminate and a black stain finish along with Walnut and white ash veneers. The edging of the table is also a veneer as opposed to the layers of ply seen on the vintage models.
The generations of furniture products are usually accidental, identifiable only by the characteristics that can age them to a specific period. And this is the very point of pigeon holing a design, so that age can be accurately estimated which subsequently provides desirability and value.
The table is made from multiple layers, the 5 ply top, a rectangular frame on the underside followed by a further wooden space and bent ply legs on each side (image courtesy of D Rose Modern)