First seen in the marketplace in 1961, the Universal Base dining and work tables were an addition to the growing portfolio of Eames table designs in the Herman Miller catalog. Equally as versatile as the Contract and later Segmented tables, the Universal tables, available in a range of finishes, were equally as good for the home or the workplace.
The Universal base, first seen with these tables and the 1961 Time Life Chairs, would later go on to become the mainstay of all the Eames workplace seating, literally replacing the older Contract base by the late 1960's. The tables however were very much sold in conjunction with the Contract tables and both types were sold side by side.
The series was first released with three dining or work options along with a matching side table. All of the tops of the first released Universal Base series were circular but square and customized rectangular options would be available later into the mid 1960's. Essentially, the range would settle for two heights and two sizes of both the square and circular topped tables for the majority of the decades thereafter.
The construction of the tables was entirely like that of the earlier Contract range, with their black steel pedestal and vinyl rimmed table tops. The difference of course was the shape of the base, made with a more slimline, sleeker design but still constructed with the bright polished Aluminum. Once the bases of the Alu Group chairs changed in the mid 1960's sales of the, now matching, Universal tables would increase beyond those of the Contract type that had preceded them.
The Universal Base tables were brought in alongside the already established Contract Base tables in 1961. They were for the large part very much the same, apart from the shape of the cast Aluminum foot section, with a thinner sleeker design. The tables retained the same steel pedestal tube as the Contract table as well as the vinyl or veneer edged tops in a multitude of laminates, faux veneers and genuine wood veneers.
|Top||Wood Veneer, Laminate Plastic, Faux Wood Veneer Laminate|
|Pedestal||Black Steel Tubing|
|Base & Feet||Sand Casted Aluminum with Glides|
The Universal Tables started life as a very small range with two heights and three tops:
Model 1675 (measuring 28.5" high and 42" in diameter)
Model 1677 (measuring 28.5" high and 36" in diameter)
Model 1679 (measuring 25.5" high and 42" in diameter)
The tables were only available initially in a white laminated circular top with Vinyl edging. A year later and a stone topped version was released for both the Universal and Contract tables, this was model:
Model 3677 (measuring 28.75" high and 36" in diameter) in a translucent White Onyx with brown veins.
By 1964 and the catalog range had settled into 2 heights and 2 sizes of top for both circular and square variants. These would remain constant until the 1990's:
ET102 - Circular 36" (28.5" high)
ET103 - Circular 42" (28.5" high)
ET202 - Circular 36" (25.5" high)
ET203 - Circular 42" (25.5" high)
ET105 - Square 36" x 36" (28.5" high)
ET205 - Square 36" x 36" (25.5" high)
ET106 - Square 42" x 42" (28.5" high)
ET206 - Square 42" x 42" (25.5" high)
Herman Miller however did allow purchasers (especially commercial buyers) to customize tables with tops and bases from all of their ranges. This means that rectangular tops as well as non-catalog square and circular sizes may well be found too.
This 1964 Image depicts some of the custom (book and non-book) sizes of the Universal Tables available from Herman Miller. Rectangular tops were also available not shown.
The one piece foot section of the base was a combination of sand cast polished aluminum and a plastic foot glide. (Castors were available too on side variants)