Although quiet, we've been busy at *rnm.
(1) There's a new baby (more on that eventually), and
(2) I'm now custom-making case-study-style shelving units (and selling them!*)
We love the look and functionality of the original Eames-designed ESU (Eames Storage Unit). When introduced, it was a practical, modular and affordable shelving option with a bit of whimsy and an industrial flair. Fast forward 50+ years and it's now relegated to design showrooms and is crazy expensive.
In the nursery, I needed a more shallow option — 12in deep as opposed to the 16in traditional depth. Plus, at almost $1500 delivered, it seemed a bit out of reach. So, of course we made our own.
In the same DIY and off-the-shelf ethos as the original Eames units, this is made with maple plywood cut and finished in my workshop and supported by aluminum legs — the latter, a bit of a refinement from the erector-set-like originals. The sides and back are walnut faced on one side and laquered on the reverse (red, gray and cream). This unit is 32in wide and 12in deep — a perfect fit for the space.
[Click on the photos for larger, clearer versions]
* This prototype is for sale for $400 — about 1/3 of the ESU price. Smaller ones, would of course be more and larger ones, more expensive, but that's on-par with the Eames pricing, too. Of course, being a small workshop there are a few limitations to size and available options, but being able to spec a custom depth is nice. For instance, electronics might have a hard time fitting on a 16in deep shelf and books get lost in something so deep (12in is great for books and 18 is a minimum for electronics).
Drop me a line if you'd like to discuss your own project.
Being a prototype, I learned a few things:
• The piece is much more elegant when the panels are inset in the legs as opposed to mounted on the outside like the original ESU. This means that back panels (in the final model) will be on the left side only and side panels can be on the right side (or bottom if you use only one back panel). Also, it gets too tight with panels adjacent to one another at the corners, so side panels go on the opposite ends of the back panels.
• For stabilty, only one back panel is necessary. By bolting it at 4 corners, it ceates a tremendous shear strength. Due to the narrowness of this model, side panels are unnecessary for stability, but are nice for aesthetics.
• The red, gray and cream colors are a great combo, but I can also fit with a white or black masonite panel finished in "natural" on the reverse (the natural tone of laquered MDF looks a bit like dark leather or wet paper bag... it's pretty, really and contrasts nicely with the maple.
• Jigs are awesome. I made a few and it really simplified the process and made things far more uniform.
Here are a few more in-progress images and a shot of it in the nursery.