The DCW Chair was one of the first in a series of plywood chairs designed by husband-and-wife team Charles and Ray Eames. They worked collaboratively in the design of chairs, tables, and other pieces of furniture that combined mass production with style, functionality, and comfort. The Eameses experimented with emerging technology, incorporating processes such as steam-bending plywood into their designs.
Strong, light, durable, and organic in appearance, plywood has allowed 20th-century designers flexibility in shaping modern forms. “Plywood,” explained Popular Science magazine in 1948, “is a layercake of lumber and glue.” It is created when three or more thin layers of wood, called veneers, are assembled with their grains perpendicular to each other and then are bound together with glue, under pressure and usually with heat. Unlike natural wood, the resulting material does not shrink, swell, or split when exposed to moisture. The Eameses first experimented with plywood in 1940, but their early designs did not allow for complex curves that could be comfortable without upholstery. They spent the next five years experimenting until they found a way to both bend and mold plywood, creating compound curves that were optimal for the human body.