Living out here in the Western hinterlands, I don’t get much exposure to the proverbial lifestyles of the rich and famous, unless it’s through my work with 3rings, which often brings me into virtual contact with said segment of society: in this forum, we are, after all, frequently dealing with $3,500 armchairs and $5,000 loungers. But I never thought my professional chops could benefit from immersion in the tumultuous and debauched and occasionally amusing world of upper-crust New York teens dramatized on TV’s Gossip Girl.
Eames Lounge Chair. Upholstered in Missoni Chevron fabric.
Ordinarily, these types of shows hardly pique my interest (I never was one for 90210, back when I fit with the ostensible demographic), but last Monday night — between sips of Bourbon and water and routinized grumbling about “kids today” — I abandoned my woeful Broncos and began to surf for something vaguely entertaining… and there it was in the Bass/Van der Woodsen ultra chic and trendy apartment: a re-purposed Eames Lounge Chair and Ottoman.
You all know this Eames, of course. Charles and Ray’s seminal piece from Manufacturer Herman Miller (1956) was made of simple molded plywood atop a base of stainless steel tubing, and finished with elegant walnut veneer laminate and handsome black leather upholstery. According to Charles, the chair aspired to create the “warm receptive look of a well used First Baseman’s mitt.” Owing to its confluence of modern lines and materials and the appeal of its “lived-in” functionality, the Eames “has become the consummate lounge set, effortlessly and timelessly blending old fashioned eccentric comfort with visionary modernism.” The chair has inspired many designers (and many designs) for over 50 years: Mies Van Der Rohe, Eero Aarnio, Verner Panton, Marcel Breuer, Knoll and Josef Hoffmann are among its avowed admirers, and it continues to appear in varied incarnations every year (see Skate Study House for one of the more intriguing of these re-visionings).
But back to Gossip Girl… so there was the Eames, smack dab in the middle of some low-brow TV drama about disgruntled privileged youth and parents who apparently prefer globe-trotting and spouse-swapping to raising their kids. It’s easy to be glib, but if shows like Gossip Girl teach us anything, it’s about the prevailing aesthetic. And the Set Designers’ inclusion of this classic — albeit infused with a bit of contemporary and well-monied panache ala the Missoni Print Upholstery — reminds us that the Eames Lounger is still very much alive.
xoxo, Gossip Girl.