A major technical
Outdoor Seating Comes In
An Industrialist Who Loved Modern Design
Industrialist J. Irwin Miller was born in the small town of Columbus, Indiana, in 1909. A civic-minded man, he set up the Cummins Foundation in 1954 and offered his home town a deal: The Foundation would pay architect fees for new public buildings and would choose the architects. As a result, this town of about 40,000 has buildings by the giants of mid-century modern design—Eero and Eliel Saarinen, I.M. Pei, Cesar Pelli, Kevin Roche, and Richard Meier, among others. In 1991, the American Institute of Architects declared the small town the sixth most important in the country in terms of architecture.
A Step Up to Luxury
We began making the Aluminum Group chairs in 1958. In 1969, Charles and Ray extended the design by adding generously plush cushions, creating the Soft Pad line. The chairs' simple lines, innovative use of materials, and suspension comfort have kept the Aluminum Group and Soft Pad chairs among the most popular seating choices for both offices and homes.
A Challenge to the Eames Team
Among the buildings Eero Saarinen designed in Columbus was Miller's home. Saarinen wanted high-quality seating for outdoor use and asked Charles and Ray Eames to develop it. They constructed their chairs with cast aluminum and a seat frame that would support a stretched synthetic mesh. The seat-back suspension was a major technical achievement and a departure from the concept of the chair as a solid shell.