Few designers influenced the mid-century modern design as Charles and Ray Eames did: they designed almost everything that could be designed. However, within the wide range of products they realized for Herman Miller, the ESU(Eames Storage Unit) is probably one of the most famous and popular. Designed in the 1949, the ESU was a revolutionary product for those times. It was the first modular furniture available in different combinations and materials.
Its structure was made up with vertical and horizontal elements. First the fixed vertical supports -in different lengths- that made the L-section steel bars. Then, horizontal shelves in lacquered plywood and finally vertical panels forming backs and sliding doors in several materials including embossed plywood, perforated metal and Masonite.
The single parts come in many different finishes and colours including sliding doors, open-back wire, X-frame braces and three-drawer systems. All these elements could be assembled obtaining an highly customized furniture, a kit of mass-producible and interchangeable parts basing on the end user’s needs.
Charles and Ray Eames designed the ESU in the 1949 and produced by Herman Miller between the 1950 and 1955. From the 1998 is again in production. The ESU, despite its innovative characteristics, didn’t have the hoped commercial success. It was probably too modern for that time’s customers still too used in to the handmade style furniture.
The importance of the Charles and Ray Eamse ESU storage was to become an example and a trend for the storage units manufacturing and design from that moment up to today. It best represented the Eameses philosophy in terms of solving interior decor problems in an innovative and functional way and remembers other classic Eames projects like the Wire Chair and the Wire-base Tables. Please read further to discover how mid century modern design influenced the contemporary design and furniture manufacturing.