There are few more important names in mid-20th century furniture design than husband-and-wife team Ray and Charles Eames. Their experimental approach and use of innovative materials and manufacturing methods has made their designs among the most desirable for the discerning 21st century interior.

Prime among them is the Eames DSW Chair, the first industrially-produced plastic chair. Designed with Zenith plastics for a competition on low-cost furniture design organised in 1948 by the New York Museum of Modern Art, the DSW chair was an instant hit, and is still available today.

All Eames chairs of this type were conceived to use a variety of bases, and could be covered or left bare, celebrating the plastic or fibreglass from which they were made.

The DSW Chair - where DSW stands for "Dowel-Leg Side Chair" in the no-nonsense nomenclature of the Eames Office - is set on a wood and wire base, featuring, in a typical Eames touch, rubber mounts to cope with long periods of sitting.

Ray and Charles Eames worked from Venice Beach in Los Angeles and their work speaks of the optimism of post-war America. Their use of the newest techniques and materials was added to a vision of elegant, simple objects that would be affordable to all.

Likewise their Modernist architecture - best exemplified in their home, Eames House - pioneered the use of prefabricated materials.

The irony is that far from being low-cost, the DSW Chair today will find a place only in more affluent households. Simplicity has never been more desirable.

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