In 1956 Charles and Ray Eames debuted the Eames Lounge Chair and Ottoman, a molded plywood and leather set that has been in production for the Herman Miller furniture company ever since. The iconic chair set made its mark in design history and you will find it part of many museum collections, including the Museum of Modern Art. The splendid look of Eames is not just limited to lounge chairs. Today you can add an Eames sofa, coffee table, desk and the wonderfully fun molded fiberglass chair.
Looking to add some vintage flair to your home and office? Enter Pierre Paret, owner of Royal Street’s Acme Mid-Century + Modern. Collecting mid-century and modern art and furniture began as a hobby and advanced into the business it is today. Pierre enjoys hunting for new and unique items, and researching and curating these finds. He also enjoys working with vintage items to repair and restore them before adding them to Acme’s inventory. Having Eames designed pieces available at his store is an obvious fit.
Q: What started your interest in mid-century design?
A: In part, I think it started when I moved from a large Victorian house to a much smaller home. Many of the traditional antiques I had looked a bit out of place in the more compact setting. I found that for small spaces, modern furniture is an excellent choice because it provides both efficient functionality as well as aesthetics that work better in limited space. Among he hallmarks of modern design which I value are quality, authenticity, and and craftsmanship. I started researching some of the designs, and found that many of these, especially Eames designs, are found in museums, and have been in continuous production for decades. I loved the idea of being able to read a book or watch television in comfort in something amazing enough to be in museums and books on design.
Q: Why Eames? What is about the collection that makes it essential to design history?
A: The husband-and-wife team of Charles and Ray Eames were just so cool. They didn’t just design iconic furniture, but also influenced architecture, film, fabrics, art, and much more. As Charles Eames famously stated, “Design is a plan for arranging elements in such a way as best to accomplish a particular purpose.” It is no wonder, then, that many of the designs of Charles (and his wife, Ray) Eames have been in continuous production for over 50 years, and continue to hold a place in stylish and elegant homes and offices. They designed what is undoubtedly the most famous chair in the world, known by many as the “Eames Lounge.” If these are not indicators that a design is a classic, I don’t know what is!
Q: What advice do you have for folks venturing into mid-century furniture for the first time?
A: I often find myself guiding customers to focus not just on the aesthetics, but also on comfort and functionality. Part of the underlying philosophy of good design is that “form follows function,” and once individuals develop an eye for how that drives much of modern design, they begin to better appreciate the design of a piece.
Q: What is the must-have piece in today’s design environment?
A: I think every home (and a lot of offices) should have at least one comfortable and usable lounge chair. A place to retreat to to read a book, watch television, edit a report, or just sit and think. Whether it is an Eames Lounge or a vintage chair and ottoman inspired by these designs, a good lounge chair is an essential, and can be integrated into any architectural or design setting.
Find a wonderful selection of vintage and new Eames pieces everyday at Acme Mid-Century + Modern. Bonus: Pierre will whip you up an espresso and chat about his passion for this era of design!
Acme Mid-Century + Modern is located at 128 S. Royal Street in Old Town, Alexandria. Store hours are Friday 3 – 7 p.m., Saturdays 10 a.m. – 6 p.m., and Sundays 11 a.m. – 5 p.m.