Stool designs were never perhaps prolific from the Office of Charles and Ray Eames but there were some beautiful and wholly original ones that were. From a stool dedicated for our little ones, to some dedicated to the serious workplace and even one as good as any sculpture, an Eames Stool was never plain and always interesting.
Some Eames stools were made to be on their own whilst others were ottomans, designed to be suited and booted along with a matching chair. Some were for sitting, some for feet whilst others could even second as a side table.
The earliest stool from Charles Eames arrived in the very first marketed furniture range released in conjunction with the Evans Plywood Company. The range for children was released in 1945 and consisted of the Nested Stool, Chair and matching Table. This limited run of 5000 pieces was split between the designs and was available in natural veneer or in a series of aniline dyed colors. The limited numbers make finding these a real rarity and especially with the stool as they were the least produced of the three. Sometimes they are found and come to auction along with matching chairs as part of a set and reach some very high sums as highly collectible pieces.
The popularity, and number of practical uses, of the Eames fiberglass range of side and arm chairs was growing at an unprecedented rate during the mid-1950’s. It was becoming clear just how unbelievably good these chairs were with almost no type of installation impossible. The expansion in range would see many additional bases added and these would include those of the Draftsman’s Stool and MBP Counter Stools.
The Draftsman’s Eames Stool would be released to the market in circa 1957 and would last via two generations of the stool base design until the chairs were discontinued in 1989. It could be fitted with either the side or the arm top and would initially be given the title of the 600 Series Draftsman’s Stools. The base was specially designed for working at height, perhaps for drawing and designing (as the name suggested) with a foot ring to the bottom. Each stool was available to buy in three pre-determined starting heights with each fitted with a manual mechanism for further adjustment.
The MBP Counter Stools (also released as the 0700 series) were stools for commercial installations as the base was designed to be bolted into the floor to give permanent stability. They were available in a range of heights, for both sides and arms, and with differing swivel adjustments built in. They were often used in lecture theaters and other tiered seating environments. Today they are seldom found but when they are have become popular for the home, with modern houses using counters and breakfast bars in increasing numbers.
Perhaps the very best Eames stool was to come in the early 1960’s and with real surprise in that its design was attributed to Ray, her only sole marketed piece of which she authored. A solid piece of American Walnut would be turned and shaped with symmetry on a lathe to produce a beautiful stool/side table which could be turned on each end like a sand timer. The design was part of a series of furniture designed for the lobby of the Time Life building in 1960 and the stool thereafter took the name of the Time Life Stool. Originally there was four shaped designs of the stool but only three were eventually released to the marketplace.
There were a handful of Ottoman Stools designed by the Eames Office. The most well known was that which accompanied the Eames Lounge Chair in 1956. There was also the Ottomans of the Alu Group and Soft Pad range of chairs. Ottomans, although available to buy separately, were generally meant as additions to the chairs of their respective range.