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The Sofa by Charles Eames


1954 was a year of firsts for Ray and Charles Eames, as they introduced their first design for a sofa, and with it, their first film for a corporate client. Based roughly on the ergonomics and dimensions of the built-in alcove seating in the Eames House living room, the S-73 Sofa Compact was conceived as a low-cost and lightweight solution for sofas in residential and commercial applications. The design’s three upholstered foam sections were attached to a hinged steel frame that folded flat to prevent damage during shipping and reduce the overall cost to the customer (who were provided with instructions on completing the assembly of the legs upon delivery). The film, also titled “S-73,” was conceived as a way of succinctly conveying the philosophy that guided this approach and the benefits afforded by the innovative flat-pack design to Herman Miller salespeople and dealers. Utilizing the same set and model (a housewife introduced only as “Molly”), this promotional postcard was created concurrently to the film. Amidst the signature Eames touches such as paper kites, flower arrangements, and an abundant array of fruits, nuts, cheeses, and cigarettes atop 3 LTR tables, this vignette also highlights the contribution of the newly established Herman Miller Textile Division led by the Eameses’ friend and colleague Alexander Girard. Girard conceived the textile program as a flexible toolkit that included everything from more durable and prosaic woven upholstery fabrics (such as this sofa’s covering, Nubstripe) to delicate screen-printed casements (illustrated here at left by yardage of the 1953 pattern Rain).

  • Medium:Printed paper
  • Dimensions:3 1/2 x 5 1/2 in. (8.9 x 14 cm)
  • Item:A.2019.1.033