How can the Eames' highly iconic DSR chair, originally made of metal, then fiberglass, then molded plastic, ever be enhanced? It's a question that designers have been asking themselves since 1948, when Charles and Ray Eames first entered a prototype of the classic chair into a MoMA competition for low-cost furniture design. Improving upon an Eames chair is nearly impossible, but last year the North Carolina firm of Clark Nexsen ingeniously turned the DSR side chair into a two-person love seat for a design competition co-sponsored by Herman Miller, manufacturer of Eames chairs. "We wanted to maintain the chair's classic profile, while expanding it to create a new and shared experience," says architect Matt Koonts, who worked on the project.
"The theme of the competition was to use the iconic DSR as both inspiration and canvas for expression," says Koonts. The result is an Eames chair cleaved in two, with a wide center panel of Baltic birch plywood sandwiched in between the molded plastic halves. The chair's metal base has been re-welded using longer rods, and a structural engineer at the firm was consulted to make sure the love seat could withstand the weight of two adults. It can.
Much like the Eames DSR chairs that Herman Miller sells in 14 different colors with three options for the hue of the base, the love seat's center section is interchangeable if a different material, texture or color is desired.
For their inventive take on the classic chair, Clark Nexsen took home the people's choice award in the design competition, which was held last November at the Museum for Contemporary Art and Design in Raleigh. The firm does not have the right to mass-produce the DSR2 love seat, since it's too similar to the original Eames design that Herman Miller owns the trademark to, but they can create versions of it for private customers. "We think the result is something Charles and Ray would appreciate."