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Mid-century Modern Designers Charles & Ray Eames

Have you ever wondered about the mysterious acronyms with which furniture by mid-century masters Charles and Ray Eames is named? Well, wonder no more as we explain it in full. Usually made up of three letters, the names describe the main elements of the furniture and encompass aspects such as the height or shape, the style or type, and the material or style of its frame. The Eames’ put this principle into practice with their earliest designs – the DCW and the LCW, which stand for Dining Chair Wood base and Lounge Chair Wood base, swiftly followed by the option for a Metal base: the DCM and LCM.

DCM LCW Charles & Ray Eames Vitra Aram Store

The DCM chair (left) in black stained ash plywood and the LCW (right) in red stained ash plywood

The most well-known of their designs came in 1950 – the Plastic Chair collection – and provided a plethora of acronyms. But all were based on the same principle:

DSR Dining (height) Side (chair) Rod (base)
DSW Dining (height) Side (chair) Wood (base)
DAR Dining (height) Arm (chair) Rod (base)
DAW Dining (height) Arm (chair) Wood (base)
DSX Dining (height) Side (chair) X-base
DSS Dining (height) Side (chair) Stacking (base)
RAR Rocking (height) Arm (chair) Rod (base)
PSCC Pivoting Side (Chair) Cast (base) Castors
PACC Pivoting Arm (chair) Cast (base) Castors
DSR DSW DSX chair Charles Ray Eames Vitra Aram Store

The DSR, DSW and DSX chairs – comprising Charles & Ray Eames’ Plastic Group

DAW RAR PACC DAR DAL DAX Eames Vitra Aram

From left to right: the DAW, RAR, PACC, DAR, DAL and DAX chairs – the Plastic Group armchairs

The Rod-base for these chairs also gave them their unofficial nickname – the ‘Eiffel’ chair – as the base with its cross-bracing bears a very vague resemblance to the shape of the Eiffel Tower in Paris. One slight curiosity is the DKR chair from 1951 – or Dining height Wire shell Rod base – no one seems to know why the letter ‘K’ was chosen to represent the Wire shell. One can only suppose that ‘W’ was already in use for the Wood base, and the letter ‘K’ could possibly look a little like the junctions of the wire shell itself… Another unusual one is the elegant DAL chair, designed along with a table in 1961 at the request of Alexander Girard for his new Manhattan restaurant La Fonda del Sol. The ‘L’ therefore stands for La Fonda base, made in polished die-cast aluminium.

DKR Eames Wire Chair Aram

The DKR Eames Wire chair, plus one Eames House Bird in a photograph taken by the Eames in 1953

La Fonda Del Sol Eames Girard Aram

The DAL chair in La Fonda del Sol restaurant in the Time Life Building, New York

The naming convention did not just apply to chairs. Other types of furniture received the same treatment:

LTR Low Table Rod (base)
ETR Elliptical Table Rod (base)
EDU Eames Desk Unit
ESU Eames Shelving Unit
ETR table Eames Vitra Aram

The elliptical ETR table – a black or white laminate top on a chromed rod base

EDU PACC ESU Eames Vitra Aram Store

The EDU Eames Desk Unit, PACC chair and ESU Eames Shelving Unit

These simple, functional names seem to reinforce the simple, functional nature of Eames designs. Now, whenever you spot these twentieth century design classics, you will know exactly how it is named.

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