What better way to breathe new life into Herman Miller’s archive of recognisable Eames designs than to bring in the Danish design label Hay to reimagine them? In honour of Hay’s 20th anniversary this year, Herman Miller invited founders Rolf and Mette Hay to create a contemporary version of these timeless pieces: a colour-centric reinterpretation of eight iconic Eames designs that not only features new shades, but updated materials as well.
Herman Miller x Hay: Eames classics with a twist
For the Hays, being able to bring a new spin to Herman Miller’s Eames classics is especially poignant since they have been longtime fans of both the manufacturer and the designers, and share the same playfulness and curiosity for which Charles and Ray Eames were known. ‘They were very experimental in taking advantage of new technologies. And they were having fun,’ says Rolf. ‘Since the inception of Hay, our goal has been to provide our customers with access to works by the best designers in the world – designers who understand that if you want to create high-quality industrial design for the many, then you need to find smart ways of producing.’
The Herman Miller x Hay collection consists of the ‘Eames Molded Plastic Chair’ (both with and without arms), the ‘Wire Chair’, ‘Wire Base Low Table’, the ‘Universal Base Round Table’ and ‘Hang It All’ coat rack that all don playful new shades such as toffee, iron red, indigo, mint green, powder pink and powder yellow. Hay’s version of the ‘Eames Molded Plastic Chair’ is notably made from 100 per cent post-industrial recycled plastic. Mette dived into Herman Miller’s archives to select the tones with the goal to modernise its approach to colour without recreating it entirely.
‘Being very familiar with the existing colour range, my intention was to focus on looking ahead, instead of looking too far back,' she says, while sharing that her research was not only informed by Eames ephemera, cataloged by MillerKnoll archivist Amy Auscherman, but also through one-off furniture prototypes listed on auction sites and in museum catalogues, as well as out-of-production textiles by Alexander Girard, archived at textile brand Maharam’s New York studio.
In a nod to the Eameses’ close personal and professional relationship with Girard, the collection includes a special edition of the ‘Eames Compact Sofa’, complete with a 1955 colourway of Girard’s Jacob’s Coat textile, which Maharam faithfully reissued for the occasion at Mette’s request. Another personal favourite of the couple is the ‘Molded Plywood Chair’, now available in emerald green.
As a whole, the collection not only pays tribute to the Eameses’ artistic eye, but their creative dialogue with Girard and the subsequent world of colour that they developed together and which has continued to influence designers to this day. Hay’s ability to bring this all to life once more not only speaks of Rolf and Mette’s high regard for partnership and collaboration, but also emphasises their standing as modern-day disciples of the Eameses’ philosophy that good design should be for everyone. Even those familiar with these ubiquitous designs will find their new incarnations hard to resist.
The collection is available in North America, South America, Asia, Australia, and Africa starting 21 September 2022. Exclusive Collection retail partners include MoMA Design Store in the US and Inform Interiors in Canada starting 21 September 2022. The collection will also be available via additional select retailers starting 21 October 2022
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Pei-Ru Keh is a former US Editor at Wallpaper*. Born and raised in Singapore, she has been a New Yorker since 2013. Pei-Ru held various titles at Wallpaper* between 2007 and 2023. She reports on design, tech, art, architecture, fashion, beauty and lifestyle happenings in the United States, both in print and digitally. Pei-Ru took a key role in championing diversity and representation within Wallpaper's content pillars, actively seeking out stories that reflect a wide range of perspectives. She lives in Brooklyn with her husband and two children, and is currently learning how to drive.
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