The collection
Tall storage unit with a steel frame and modular drawer, cabinet, and shelf components in different materials and colors.

Storage Unit, ESU

Designed by
Charles Eames (1907–1978) and Ray Eames (1912–1988)
Zinc-plated steel, birch-faced plywood, plastic-coated plywood, lacquered Masonite
Produced by
Herman Miller Furniture Company, Zeeland, Michigan
148.9 x 119.4 x 42.5 cm

The Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, the Liliane and David M. Stewart Collection, gift of Mr. and Mrs. Robert L. Tannenbaum by exchange, D83.144.1

Everyday objects can be artistic as well as functional designs. Although this storage unit was made from ordinary industrial materials, it relates to avant-garde art of the 1940s: its primary colors and taut linear composition are seen in De Stijl–inspired American Art. The units are lightweight, supported by a sturdy steel-frame structure similar to metal shelving used in warehouses and factories.

A variety of arrangements of interchangeable drawer and cabinet units were possible to enclose the open shelves if desired. The Eameses’ ESU line also included shorter storage cabinets, desks, and other related pieces—all “modestly priced.”

The Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, photo: Denis Farley.