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Eames’ lost 1946 radio design, once a flop, is making a comeback

Vitra is resurrecting the 1946 design and giving it a modern twist

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Radio on dresser Photo via Vitra

Throughout the 1940s, Charles and Ray Eames manufactured hundreds of thousands of radio cabinets for a variety of companies. Many of them were built from molded plywood, the same material the designers used across their products at the time.

Commissioned by the likes of Emerson Radio, the Farnsworth Company, and Hamilton Radio Corporation, the Eames would churn out cabinets, without having much say about the radio design itself.

In 1946, the Eames took a crack at designing their own radio. It was compact and modern, with 16 speaker holes, two knobs, and a dial housed in their signature plywood cabinet. It was a total flop.

At the time, the radio was considered too outlandish to sell as a mainstream product. “The radio was rejected by the designated manufacturer, who wanted a ‘normal design,’” Vitra recalls on its site. Now, Vitra is bringing that same radio design back to life and selling it in a limited quantity of 999.

The updated radio—now on sale at MoMA Design Store for $999, or $799 for members—has some modern features, including WiFi and Bluetooth connections. It’s a faithful reproduction purpose built for modern life—exactly how the Eames would have wanted it.

Black and white photo of radio © Eames Office, LLC via Vitra
Radio with molded plywood cabinet Photo via Vitra

Via: Fast Company