April 15, 2007

Whoa, Kid! Get Off That Eames Plywood Elephant! It Cost A Thousand Euros!


In his exhibition at MoMA titled, I believe, "My New Plywood Molding Technique Is Unstoppable!" Charles Eames included what was to become the world's most collectible leg brace, the first of what came to be called the Potato Chip chairs, and a handful of kid-related prototypes: the chair and a series of plywood ride-on animals.

The chair had a single production run in 1945, and has now been put into production by Vitra. The animals, however, never left the house, except for special occasions. This summer is one of those occasions.

To commemorate Charles Eames' 100th birthday June 17th, Vitra is producing one of the animals, the elephant, in a limited series of 1,000, which will be available for the nicely symmetrical price of 1,000 euros.

My guess is, we have Japanese Eames fanatics to thank for this release. When the Japanese design magazine Casa Brutus ran an all-Eames issue in 2001, it included a papercraft version of the Plywood Elephant that was so popular, they reprinted it. A couple of years later, an Eames-related mook came out with the papercraft elephant, too. [The mook is 1260 yen at Amazon JP; you can still get Casa Brutus for $20 from EamesGallery.com.]

The irony, of course, is that the only currency more depressed the dollar is the yen. Maybe there's some kind of three-way plywood elephant arbitrage opportunity here, like how, for Brits, Bugaboos in the US are like half the price. Work on that and let me know. Meanwhile, if this goes over well, watch for the rest of Eames's plywood menagerie to be put into production on future arbitrarily significant occasions.

[update: to get a sense of the elephant's size, check out advencap's flickr photos from Eames Demetrios' presentation at TED2007 last month. Looks about the size of a fluffed up cocker spaniel. Bonus photo: Charles Eames' rebus letter to his 5-year-old daughter--and ED's mother--Lucia.]

Get on the Plywood Elephant list at Vitra [vitra.com via kidsmodern]
Related: And who was it who curated Eames into MoMA? Family modernist Eliot Noyes, of course

1 Comment

Has anyone figured out the Eames rebus referenced in this post? I am stumped on "rowing man" and "sunset" and also the dog with message on its collar. The rest I get.

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