Originally conceived by Charles and Ray Eames in 1945, the Plywood Elephant never went into production, due to the extreme conditions necessary to mould the material.
History of the Plywood Elephant
The two Plywood Elephant prototypes were shown at the Museum of Modern Art in New York in 1946 – one of which survives today in the Eames family archives. The Plywood Elephant can be seen as a playful counterpart to the leg splints developed by the Eameses for military applications which were the very first mass-produced objects made of three-dimensionally moulded plywood.
The Eameses spent much of the early 1940s on their techniques of moulding three-dimensional shapes out of plywood which was not solely focussed on the Plywood Elephant and splints, but also many items of seating in the Plywood Group. Since the Elephant has such complex and tight curves, at the time it was simply not feasible to produce it on a grand scale, however it remains a significant item in the Eames’ repertoire due to the other successes it gave way to.
Modern Day Processes
Due to the advancements in technology that we have today, Vitra was able to serially produce of the Plywood Elephant as a limited Collector’s Edition in 2007 and it is now finally available as a mass-produced item – as intended by the Eameses.