herman miller x hay eames

How Do You Remix the Most Iconic Furniture of All Time? Give it a Splash of Danish Color

Charles Eames once said that “the details are not the details — they make the product.” So, when Danish design brand HAY had the chance to collaborate with Herman Miller on a refresh of eight classic Eames pieces, we imagine the opportunity was as exciting as it was daunting: How do you take something so iconic and rework the defining nuances in your own style? One way in is to remember that a sense of play was instrumental to the work of Ray and Charles Eames; to remind yourself that their designs emerged out of experimentation and being open to making new connections. It also helps to have an unerring eye, like Hay’s creative directors Mette and Rolf Hay do.

The Eames Office has rarely let creative liberties be taken with these mid-century designs. But the Herman Miller x HAY collaboration, born out of mutual appreciation, features a revitalized color palette and some updated materials that feel utterly contemporary while remaining true to the originals. HAY, which is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year, is part of the MillerKnoll group of brands, though this is the first time they’ve produced a collection with Herman Miller, the sole authorized manufacturer of Eames furniture in much of the world, including the Americas, Australia, Africa and Asia. The Hays brought their current, wildly colorful sensibility to the project but also dove into Herman Miller’s extensive archives for inspiration, which included research into out-of-production textiles by Alexander Girard, the founding director of the Herman Miller textiles division and the Eameses close friend and colleague. A new edition of the compact Eames Sofa is upholstered in Girard’s Jacob’s Coat textile, reissued specifically for this collection. And seven new colorways, including Toffee, Iron Red, and Powder Yellow, enliven the pieces. (Check out the archival colors at the end of this post and wonder aloud to yourself, as we did, when the HOT PINK EAMES CHAIR is going to drop.) The molded plywood chair – a favorite of the Hays, who have one of the prototypes in their own living room in Denmark – now exists in the same saturated shade of emerald green that’s often used in other HAY offerings.

The Eames tables and wire chairs have been upgraded for outside use, with powder-coated legs and the option for cushions upholstered in outdoor fabric. And there’s also the addition of glass, which allows light itself to become a material, in a way: the painted wooden balls of the Eames Hang-It-All have been swapped out for cast-glass spheres and the Wire Base Low Table and Universal Base Round Table now feature cast-glass slab tops. In a move toward environmental responsibility, the oft-imitated molded plastic Shell chairs now contain 100% post-industrial recycled plastic. Altogether, it’s a beautiful way to bring the past into the future.