Vitra brings original Eames Radio into production for the first time
It’s safe to say that the Eames Radio was ahead of its time. First created in 1946, it lay in the prototype drawer, never to hit production, critiqued for its then unusual ‘compact shape and austere design’. Forward 70-plus years, the original concept has been revisited by Swiss furniture company Vitra, and Revo, a design manufacturer in digital radio and music streaming devices. Together, they have formed the re-emerged radio, staying true to the Eames’ vision, but fitting in with today’s tech spec expectations.
Predominantly working over four decades from the early 1940s, husband and wife duo Charles and Ray Eames famously developed a technique to mould plywood in ways that allowed them to construct a variety of malleable products – including radio cabinets. Of course, many Eames radios did go into production, and by 1952, roughly 200,000 radios with cabinets designed by the Eames’ had been sold by various manufacturers. But this one, with its highly technical profile, went largely ignored.
The original Eames Radio. © Eames Office, LLC
Now, in a limited run, Vitra and Revo have brought the stalwart design into the 21st century. The outer component is made from the plywood Charles and Ray Eames are recognised for, but inside, today’s necessary digital doodahs – Bluetooth connection, anti-theft Kensington lock, DAB/ DAB+ Tuner, multi-country power unit and a charging device – come as standard. This weds tradition and modern technology in a way sympathetic to Eames’ renowned vision for flexible functionality.
The timeless design, much copied, looks unsurprisingly at home in today’s noisy home sound showroom. But this is the midcentury original; and true Eames buffs – and speakerheads alike – will be delighted. §