Charles and Ray Eames had a habit of turning out more than a few rather good furniture designs during their career, ones that we all know and love to this day. But if there were any of what could be described as ‘hidden gems’ then it could certainly be their undervalued and overlooked Eames Tables designs.
Often overshadowed by the numerous famous and iconic seating designs, the Eames Tables are really something else. From the humble beginnings of post war traditionalism to some of the weirdest and wackiest designs available, the Eames Tables are our vote for best hidden gem of the career of Charles and Ray Eames.
The office of Charles and Ray Eames would produce some quite beautiful tables over the years. Their post war beginnings into the furniture market may have still been modeled on the more traditional look and feel of a table but they were intelligent, they were functional, they were expertly made and despite the constraints of what tables are, they were exciting and new.
Following a great deal of experimentation and preparatory work during the war effort with the Evans Plywood Company, the office of Charles and Ray released their very first table in 1946. This tiny but beautiful Children’s nested table was an excellent marker for things to come. Made in very small numbers, the table utilized the layers of molded plywood so expertly refined during those early years.
Things would get really interesting when the furniture for adults arrived from 1946 onward. Full size dining tables of molded plywood in varying shapes and bases would be produced. The DTW Wooden Leg and DTW Detachable Leg tables would bring a new look to a traditional size and shape table. There would even be matching coffee and side tables too. These scarcely found tables are quite rare today and very much encapsulated the transition of post war traditional look and functional design into something with a twist of modernism.
Charles and his team had a thing for tables with legs that could be removed or rescinded for space saving. This was very much a design need of the time with post war housing being small and compact. No other design would do it better than the square DTM and rectangular DTM tables. Available in either a white or natural plywood layer finish, it was the underside that captured the imagination the most. By folding the legs inside in a certain sequence, they literally disappeared into the frame of the table top leaving the perfect size for storing. The look of the folded legs in the table was equally mesmerizing. A similar side table called the Incidental IT table was also released alongside and due to the most intelligent design of the legs the series became known as ‘Drop Tables’
Some of the best-known tables of Charles and Ray Eames are the coffee and size tables. Some of which remain available today after a 1990’s relaunch. The Plywood made CTM had a circular top and metal legs whereas the CTW was the same top but utilized the wooden legs. This principal was equal of that used on the plywood chairs, the DCM and DCW for example. An Oblong version called the OTW was also produced for a short time.
Two of the most famous Eames tables are also perhaps two of the strangest. The super long ETR table (also know as the surf board table) had an elongated oval shape and distinctive top, sat on two square wire frame bases. This coffee table was very long in size and demanded a room of equal measure for its use. Alongside it was the LTR, a tiny side table both low and small in width which was designed to ‘fit in’ with its surroundings. This exceptionally small table was more miniature than side tables would normally be can could be dotted around the living space in one or multiple numbers.
Following limited success with the 650 Table, which sported a pedestal base like that found on the Eames Lounge Chair and Eames Speaker, the design of tables very much moved towards the workplace and multi-use market. The Contract Tables and the Segmented Base Tables were introduced and were so versatile in their use. The Contract tables had a fixed base and used the same pedestal base design of the initial Alu Group chairs of 1958.
The Segmented Base tables were a super intelligent table base system that could be kept small, doubled, stretched, enlarged and widened. The system could be used to virtually custom create a table of any size or shape, depending on the need. You can find Segmented Tables in small circular or square sizes right through to giant 16-foot conference tables.
In tandem with the Alu Group work chairs, the Universal Base would also be introduced on tables from the mid 1960’s adding another inspiring fresh look to the range.