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Vitra Miniature Plywood Elephant Natur, Eames: The Plywood Elephant holds a prominent place among the plywood pieces designed by the Eameses. In the early 1940s Charles and Ray Eames successfully developed an innovative method for moulding plywood into three-dimensional shapes, which they used to produce a wide range of furniture and sculptural objects.
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Vitra Miniature Plywood Elephant Natur, Eames: The Plywood Elephant holds a prominent place among the plywood pieces designed by the Eameses. In the early 1940s Charles and Ray Eames successfully developed an innovative method for moulding plywood into three-dimensional shapes, which they used to produce a wide range of furniture and sculptural objects. Among the early plywood designs, the Elephant is one of the most difficult to produce. Tight angles and compound curves require a sophisticated mastery of plywood technology. Designed at the same time as their children's furniture, the Plywood Elephant can also be seen as a playful counterpart to the leg splints developed by the Eameses for military applications – which were the very first mass-produced objects made of threedimensionally moulded plywood. Requiring complex fabrication methods, the Plywood Elephant never went into production. Only two prototypes were made, both of which were displayed at the New York Museumof Modern Art in 1945-46. Today only one known model remains in the possession of the Eames Family. In 2007 Vitra produced the first commercial production of the legendary Eames Plywood Elephant as a limited Collector's Edition. Three-dimensionally moulded plywood, natural maple, nickle plated screw.
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.
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