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Compact Sofa Packaging Mock-up

1954

Much of the packaging design for Eames products bears evidence of Ray’s design process, which often entailed the production of miniature mock-ups. This diminutive model of the box for their 1954 Sofa Compact (later known as the Compact Sofa) bears a relatively simple design, with manufacturer Herman Miller’s brand name and logo serving as the primary graphic elements. Though simple, the design of the box is highly thought out, as the packaging for the Sofa Compact was an integral aspect of the design concept itself. Specifically, with this sofa the Eameses sought to achieve affordability by reducing shipping costs—without sacrificing the dimensions of the sofa, which was full-length and high-backed. Typically, such items were shipped in large crates, but because shipping costs were largely determined by volume (rather than weight), the Sofa Compact was designed to be shipped in pieces that fit into a slender box. This minimized its packed dimensions but required the customer to assemble its steel frame and foam rubber cushions upon delivery, making it an early example of flat-packed furniture. This now-common approach is often associated with Swedish furniture manufacturer IKEA, and indeed the Eames Office designed the Sofa Compact three years before IKEA introduced flat-packing to Sweden. The long, thin box itself is a manifestation of the flat-packing concept: three flat-packed, boxed sofas could be shipped in the same amount of space as one fully assembled sofa.

  • Medium:Pen on paper
  • Item:T.2019.2.169.5