The Lounge Chair & Ottoman: an English Chair and a Baseball Glove

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The lounge chair is undeniably one of Charles and Ray Earnes most renowned creations – a piece that would quickly become a classic in the history of modern furniture. The story of the lounge chair & ottoman begins in 1940. The prototype, presented during an “Organic Design in Home Furnishing” contest put on by the MOMA in New York, was one of the most complex works ever created by the Earnes, as well as their first project made for the high end market. The idea was simple: “What if we modernized the eternal English club armchair?” This question asked by Charles Earnes marked the starting point for the lounge chair – an armchair that would offer absolute comfort with respected classicism. The idea: curl up in an armchair with “the warm and open aspect of a glove used by a first baseman,” in Charles Earnes’ own words.

It would take until 1956 for the object to be put up for sale. Conceived in 1956 for director Billy Wilder’s birthday, the lounge chair & ottoman was a new reference point in the field. The high quality of its padding as well as that of its leather upholstery with a molded plywood shell goes perfectly with the pivoting footstool and creates an incomparably comfortable experience. An instant classic in the history of furniture, the piece is light all while being more elegant and modern than the massive armchairs in British clubs.

This armchair is still current today; that’s because the manufacturer that produces it has been able to adapt its proportions and composition ideals to use components from a new century. While the design was once rustically tough but extremely comfortable, today the lounge chair & ottoman is still made with the same level of artisanal quality, although now walnut and cherrywood have replaced the rosewood in the original model. Fixed on a 15 degree incline that allows it to evenly distribute a person’s weight into a comfortable position, the lounge chair & ottoman set perfectly fulfills the original plan of its designers, and remains one of the most important and influential pieces in 21st century design.

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