Vitra Miniature LCM, Eames: Charles Eames and Eero Saarinen designed a chair in 1940 with a new type of three-dimensional preshaped plywood seat for a competition held by the New York Museum of Modern Art. The chair did not go into production owing to a lack of technical know-how. It was very rare back then for plywood to be successfully pressed into a three-dimensional shape. In the years that followed, Charles and RayEames concentrated on developing a process that enabled plywood to be shaped as they wanted. The »Plywood Chairs« DCW (Dining Chair Wood), LCW (Lounge Chair Wood) and the versions with metal legs, namely DCM (Dining Chair Metal) and LCM were the result of these years of experimentation. In 1945 Charles and Ray Eames again took up the idea of a seat made of formed plywood without, however, coming up with satisfactory solutions. As a consequence, they rejected the idea of a multifunctional seat and decided to treat seat and back as separate, freely articulated elements that were linked with each other via a backbone – the frame. Each component is thereforereduced to a clearly defined function which it fulfills with a minimum of materials being used. The rubber »shock mounts« glued onto the wood enable the seat and back to be connected to the frame.
The collection of the Vitra Design Museum en miniature: The Miniatures Collection of the Vitra Design Museum covers the most important pieces from the international history of design from 1850 up to the present. The construction, materials and colours of the miniatures correspond precisely to the historical original. Extensive development work was carried out to adapt the manufacturing techniques to the requirements of miniaturization. Because they are so true to the originals, the miniatures are not only collector’s objects for furniture enthusiasts, but also serve as ideal illustrative material for universities and design schools. At present, the collection encompasses 80 models on a 1:6 scale with further pieces being continually added. The models come in their own wooden box and are accompanied by a descriptive brochure with details on the design. Net proceeds from the sale of the miniatures go towards the exhibitions and workshops of Vitra Design Museum.
Miniaturization means concentration: Vitra Design Museum faithfully replicates furniture design classics in miniaturized three-dimensional form. Many of these designs, like the chaise longue by Le Corbusier or the red-blue chair by Gerrit Rietveld, are as widely known today as the most celebrated works of art and are coveted by museums and collectors the world over. These miniatures illustrate at a glance what design means and what role it plays in the industrial production process. The clear and concentrated world of the miniatures yields a fascinating reflection of the stylistic diversity of contemporary design and provides a unique way of accessing the history of furniture design.
The manufacture of the miniatures: Vitra Design Museum has one of the most renowned collections of industrial furniture design – from the infancy of industrial mass production in the mid-19th century through the designs of functionalistic Modernism up to the postmodern furniture objects of the present day. With its many exhibits, the collection provides us with an ideal base for developing new furniture miniatures. Model builders measure the historical original in the museum collection, scale this down to one sixth of the original size and compile technical documentation. Subsequently, materials and manufacturing techniques are tested over a period of several months: the shapes are formed, materials and processes are selected, art historical research on the objects is conducted and then the production sequences are defined.