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CTM (Coffee Table Metal)

c. 1948

This early Eames design for a round coffee table made from molded plywood was offered in a variety of veneers and dyes, with a choice of legs in wood or metal (finished in either “bright metal” or black). The table’s mix-and-match nature both depends upon and disguises the workings of mass production. On the one hand, its parts are interchangeable because they are standardized, a fundamental element of industrial production. On the other, its menu of options contributes to the notion that consumption can be a means for individual self-expression. This idea was promoted by many designers, the Eameses among them, in the postwar years and contributed to the rise of US consumer culture in this period. Like all Eames designs from this era, the table—particularly its base—went through numerous iterative improvements before (and after) the design was manufactured by Evans Products Company’s Molded Plywood Division and distributed by Herman Miller. While earlier examples featured metal legs bent in a hairpin fashion, and later examples utilize shock mounts to connect the legs and top, on this prototypical example with a birch top they are affixed somewhat crudely with wood.

  • Manufacturer: Herman Miller, Inc.
  • Medium:Birch plywood, steel with zinc coating, rubber, steel
  • Dimensions:16 1/2 x 34 in. (41.9 x 86.4 cm)
  • Design Date:1945
  • Item:2019.2.155