First released with two available size options in 1961, the Eames Universal Base coffee tables have proven to be as adept in either the home, the lobby or the workplace. The table series was added to the portfolio alongside taller work and or dining table variants and over the years became available in a multitude of finish options.
When released, the Eames Universal base coffee tables were an alternative addition to the portfolio which already consisted of the Contract and La Fonda Base side and coffee tables. The Contract and Universal tables essentially utilized the same top choices therefore it was more a matter of personal taste when it came to buying.
The Universal base became the mainstay option for the Alu Group chairs from 1966, largely due to being more versatile, sleeker and designed in a way that it could be fitted with either castors or nylon floor glides. With the tables however, the Contract and Universal base versions were sold side by side for decades.
The Eames Universal Base coffee tables were made available in two initial sizes and in one finish until the following the year when more were added. During the mid-1960’s the range was available for full customization of the top (as with the Contract base and Segmented tables too) and by the 2000’s was available in a great number of choices. The tables remain on the books of Herman Miller as part of the permanent Eames collection, even if they do not appear annually in the catalog.
The Universal tables made an appearance in 1961 alongside the Time Life Lounge Chair which also utilized the base type for the first time. It was brought in alongside the Contract Base tables and they essentially used the same tops, the only differences being the shape and size of the one piece sand casted base. In the first year, the Universal coffee tables were only available in white laminate plastic but a natural Onyx was added the following year. Through the decades however, more and more available options would be possible with both book and custom tops in veneer, laminate, wood style laminate and natural stones.
|Top||Plastic Laminate, Wood Veneer, Stone, Marble, Faux Veneer|
|Base & Feet||Sand Casted Aluminum & Nylon Glides|
The first Eames Universal Base coffee tables, released in 1961 started with just two available catalog models:
Model 1676 (measuring 16" high and 42" in diameter)
Model 1678 (measuring 16" high and 36" in diameter)
Both of these two first models (along with the sister dining size Universal tables) were only available with white plastic laminate finish with a dark grey vinyl edging. A year after launch and the range was expanded with a natural stone model intended for indoor/outdoor use:
Model 3678 (measuring 16" high and 36" in diameter) in translucent White Onyx with brown natural veins
By 1964 and all of the Eames table ranges were becoming popular, especially in commercial markets. For this reason Herman Miller introduced the possibility of customization of the table by choosing the base type (dining, intermediate or coffee height) and any available top (circular or square) and in any of the finishes including natural veneers:
The 1964 Herman Miller catalog extract indicating the availability of customization of the Universal base tables.
Into the 1970's and the models of the 'book' brochure tables changed during a re-work of all Herman Miller product codes. Thy were given the prefix ET (Eames Table) and the model number, the Universal Base coffee tables became:
ET302 - 36" diameter
ET303 - 42" diameter
ET305 - 36" x 36" square
ET306 - 42" x 42" square
The book model types remained the same into the 2000's by which point there was literally countless numbers of top, base and column color and finish combinations.
The distinctive Universal base is made from one piece of sand casted aluminum, nylon glides and a steel column