Arkana is a brand shrouded in mystery – very little information is available on them outside of the main themes known to fans of 1960’s modernist furniture of the Eames era.
Arkana was based in Falkirk in Scotland, a family business with representation as far as Denmark.
What I do know is they made a wide range of beautiful chairs and furniture in conjunction with Maurice Burke – some nice examples of which are below. If you know more do get in touch and provide more information.
Eames Lounge Chair Wood
Lounge Chair side and back view
The Eames Lounge Chair Wood (LCW) (also known as Low Chair Wood or Eames Plywood Lounge Chair) is a chair designed by husband and wife team Charles and Ray Eames. Designers of some of the most iconic furniture of the twentieth century.
The chair was designed using technology for molding plywood that the Eames developed before and during The Second World War. Before American involvement in the war, Charles and his friend, architect Eero Saarinen, entered a line of furniture into the Museum of Modern Art’s “Organic Furniture Competition” in 1940, exploring the natural evolution of furniture in response to the rapidly changing world. Charles and Eero won the competition. However, production of the initially designed chairs was postponed due to production difficulties, and then by the United States entry into WWII.
This interruption proved fortuitous to Charles. He began making molded plywood splints for the U.S. Air Force. The splints were modelled after his own leg and allowed him to hone the technique of molding the plywood into complex curves. The LCW was a result of this experience. Parallel manufacturing techniques, also during World War II, were used by Isidor Zuckermann’s firm in the United Kingdom to manufacture types of aeroplane wings and submarine parts.
Today a LCW chair manufactured under license by Vitra will set you back around £890, cheaper than a submarine.
Eames RAR Rocker Chair
Designed by Charles & Ray Eames in 1950, this plastic armchair was first presented as part of the famed New York Museum of Modern Art competition, “Low Cost Furniture Design”. The organically shaped seat shells are made of fibreglass-reinforced plastic and were later combined with various different bases.
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Whats so special about plywood I hear you say?
Well the methods pioneered by Charles & Ray Eames in the 1950’s changed the whole definition of modern furniture.
Charles & Ray Eames, 1956
The Eames Lounger and Ottoman whose design was born out a desire to create a modern version of the old English club armchair is a classic that is as beautiful today as it was in the 50’s. The Hollywood director Billy Wilder (1906 -2002) drove on the Eames’ design process for this chair – “the motivation behind most of the things we’ve done was either that we wanted them for ourselves, or we wanted to give them to someone else” said Charles Eames.
For me this chair and ottoman have formed part of an obsession since I first saw it in the Georges Pompidou gallery in Paris as a child. The beauty, luxury and comfort of this chair have endured in my mind since that day in a further encapsulation of why its become such an enduring icon of modern design. Just don’t let your cat scratch it!