Skip to content

Tip Top Tap, Allerton Hotel, Chicago, Ill.


At this hotel lounge, situated 23 stories above Chicago’s famed Magnificent Mile, “comfort and glamour” is offered in the form of neatly tailored sofas, plush club chairs, and the latest in bent plywood furnishings. Although it belies this postcard’s intended purpose as a marketing device for “after-the-theatre rendezvous for midnight chats,” those with a keen eye for design history will detect a succinct lesson in the development of the material. Within the depicted space are seven bent-plywood tables readily identifiable as designs by the Finnish architect Alvar Aalto, who in the late 1920s and early 1930s co-developed a technique for inserting veneer strips into birch wood to create a strong and stable L-shaped leg. The standardized bent-wood component eventually led to the realization of more than 50 different products that were distributed globally through Artek, the furniture company he co-founded. Aalto’s techniques and systemic thinking were a clear design precedent for Ray and Charles Eames, whose furniture also features prominently in this postcard. By figuring out how to mold plywood with compound curves, Ray and Charles Eames were able to make chairs that were comfortable by their very shape, without the need for added padding or springs. Because of their early popularity with architects and designers, it was in venues such as this lounge that many members of the public first encountered Eames designs.

  • Medium:Printed paper
  • Dimensions:3 1/2 x 5 1/2 in. (8.9 x 14 cm)
  • Item:A.2019.1.046