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Design Under Your Derriere: The Eames 'Tandem Sling' Airport Chair

October 4, 2012 at 4:06 PM | by | Comments (0)

Look at your chair right now. What is it made of? What's its shape? Is it comfortable? No matter your answers, there's a good chance that chair pales in comparison to one most commonly found in airports. Hear us out.

The strikingly modernist terminal building of Washington-Dulles International may have been designed by Eero Saarinen, but...those stylish rows of black chairs inside? Credit for these goes to Charles & Ray Eames. Perhaps you've heard their names before? They were, after all, behind other iconic furniture designs such as the DAR and No. 670, but without a doubt it's their "Tandem Sling" you'll likely encounter the most in your lifetime if you fly through US airports with any regularity.

Dulles, believe it or not, was the first airport engineered to accommodate jets. It opened in 1962, the same year the Eames' Tandem Sling was copyrighted, which isn't a coincidence; the Tandem Sling debuted with the airport, also counting the freshly built Chicago-O'Hare Airport as a client.

You'll still see (and sit on) these chairs at these airports today, not to mention the fact that many, many other airports followed suit. We snapped the photos below just a few days ago at Detroit-Metro, for example.

The seats score high marks for their universally pleasing aesthetic as well as for durability and ease of maintenance, but they can be something of a curse for the tired traveler. Those armrests don't lift, meaning one cannot lie down or stretch out across a bank of Tandem Slings. For crossing legs, however, we find the comfort unparalleled in airport seating.

It's our personal dream to own a row of the seats one day, something which may happen sooner rather than later considering they are still very much for sale. Anyone may purchase Tandem Slings from the official dealer, Herman Miller. Pricing ranges from $4,194 to $23,528 according to the Herman Miller catalog, so keep that in mind next time you're in charge of the interior design of an airline terminal or, you know, a dentistry waiting room.

A sidenote: Charles and Ray Eames did more than make chairs for IAD. They also produced a cartoon film that expertly articulated the revolutionary design of the airport, mobile lounges and all. View it below:

[Photos: Cynthia Drescher/Jaunted]

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