BFM Seating

History of bent ply furniture

First you must check out this stunning BFM seating installation of Rita molded ply chairs with chrome frame, Midtown concrete tables attached to our Elite brushed finish interior base.

In the beginning: Charles Eames and Eero Saarinen were influenced by the work of Finnish architect Alvar Aalto, who’d lectured at Cranbrook in the early ’30s and was well known for his bent plywood furniture. Eames and Saarinen’s first attempt at shaping plywood was realized in a chair concept for Eliel’s design for the Kleinhans Music Hall in Buffalo, NY, in 1939. While that chair had two-dimensional curves, their next design, an entry for The Museum of Modern Art’s “Organic Design” competition in 1940 had three-dimensional curves. For this they won first prize, but it was only produced in very limited numbers and not anywhere near to their desired quality. By this time, Charles had met and married Ray Kaiser, a student at Cranbrook, and the two moved to Venice, California to open their eponymous office. Eero abandoned the project, but Charles and Ray were determined to figure out a completely new process for molding plywood into compound curves.

Despite their best efforts, they were still unable to produce a single-shell plywood form, but instead landed on a compelling alternative: a chair comprised of separate molded plywood panels for the back and seat, which would become the Eames Molded Plywood Chair (1946), which is still in production today and was subsequently named “Best Design of the Century” by Time magazine. Two years later, they produced a single form shell chair made out of stamped metal for Museum of Modern Art’s “International Competition for Low-Cost Furniture Design.”

Written by: Amber Bravo


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  • Contact Info


  •    215-289-5411   Phone
  •   215-289-5420   Fax
  •   bfmseating@bfm1.com
  • Location


    BFM Seating
    2080 Wheatsheaf Lane
    Philadelphia, PA 19124