Stine Liv Buur is in her dream job at Vitra, working with Eames furniture

Stine Liv Buur, who is in charge of Vitra’s classic furniture collection, is in her dream job where she gets to delve into design archives. The furniture created by Charles & Ray Eames are a passion for her but at the moment, however, the most important thing is the sustainability of the Eames collection.

Portrait of Stine Liv Buur
Danish Stine Liv Buur is in charge of Vitra's portfolio of classics, overseeing the renewal of existing products, and occasionally introducing entirely new, previously unpublished designs to the market.

“I WANT TO WORK for Vitra. It doesn’t matter what the job is, I just want to work for your company.” These are the words with which architect Stine Liv Buur, who had just completed a doctorate on luxury and Danish furniture tradition, started her job interview at Vitra ten years ago. Danish Stine had always admired Vitra, as the company not only manufactures design products but also has a strong cultural side. Working at Vitra was a dream job for Stine, who had been doing research on design and furniture for years.

Stine got her dream job, and has been working as Design Manager Classics at Vitra. In her work, she gets to draw on her extensive knowledge of the history of furniture and designers. Stine has also published books on the subject. The latest one is called Eames & Vitra, and it takes a look at the decades-long collaboration between the design duo and the furniture manufacturer.

Design Stories had the pleasure of meeting Stine Liv Buur while she was visiting Helsinki. We asked her, among other things, what makes the Eames furniture so popular and what do all the numerous Eames products have in common.

Stine Liv Buur
Stine Liv Buur, who has explored design and furniture extensively, holds the title of Design Manager Classics at Vitra. She states that she is now in her dream job.

Hi, Stine! What makes the furniture designed by Charles and Ray Eames classics?
“Charles and Ray Eames always designed new items based on need and to solve a concrete problem. In other words, they did not think about what a chair, for example, should look like but what kind of a problem it would solve. The form of the furniture was secondary to the function. Because the design process was like this, the products did not follow any trends and thus remained timeless.

They also designed many products based on the needs of their friends. For instance, the Aluminium collection was created because their designer friend Alexander Girard needed beautiful, high-quality outdoor furniture for the Miller House designed by Eero Saarinen.

The Eameses also often updated and modified their designs to keep them relevant. That’s why the products designed by the Eameses are timeless classics.”

Eames House
The Eames House, also known as Case Study House No. 8, is located in Los Angeles.
Vitra DKR Wire Chair
The beloved DKR Wire Chair was born in 1951 when Charles and Ray Eames set out to create a lightweight and durable chair using minimal materials.
Vitra Eames shell chairs
Some of the Eames classic chairs are suitable for both indoor and outdoor use.

What do the products designed by Charles and Ray Eames have in common?
“Each piece of Eames furniture is innovative and the first of its kind, which makes this question easy to answer. What they all have in common is either a new material or a new challenge that needed to be solved.

“What all Eames designs have in common is either a new material or a new challenge that needed to be solved.”

Let’s take the famous Eames shell chairs as an example. Charles and Ray were the first to create a seat suitable for industrial production, a chair in which the seat and the back were made of one piece without joints. They also came up with the idea of using a variety of legs in the chair, creating combinations suitable for different environments. That’s something you don’t think about today, but in the 1950s, it was revolutionary.”

Charles and Ray Eames
The Eames fiberglass chairs once revolutionized the entire furniture industry.

The dimensions of the Eames Lounge Chair were recently increased to make the chairs a better fit for modern people. What do you think about adapting classic furniture to modern needs?
“I think it’s okay to modify classics to a certain extent. As I mentioned earlier, Charles and Ray Eames also modified their designs themselves whenever they saw the need. They made suggestions to the manufacturer about, for instance, changing the height of a particular chair or using European screws instead of US ones because they worked better. They thought that it was permissible – and even desirable – to modify the designs to meet current needs.

They followed this principle to the end of their lives, and now this work continues in close collaboration between Vitra and the Eames family. We here at Vitra also have a famous saying that I often use: ‘What would Charles and Ray think about this?’. Since I’ve done a great deal of research on them and worked with the Eames family for years, I believe I know the answer.”

• Read also: Vitra relaunches the fabric-upholstered Eames Lounge Chair >

Vitra Soft Pad Lounge chair
The Soft Pad lounge chair with a matching stool from 1969 provides the sitter with maximum comfort.
Eames Desk Unit by Vitra
The Eames Desk Unit was designed in 1949.

How have sustainability and Vitra’s commitment to eco-friendliness affected the production of the Eames classics?
“Vitra is about to make a significant change related to this: starting from January 2024, the Eames plastic chairs will be made of recycled plastic. The polypropylene used in the chairs will be replaced with post-consumer plastic, meaning that the chairs will still be made of polypropylene, but the material will be almost 100% recycled.

We are also working hard in other areas related to sustainability, as our goal is to be carbon neutral by 2030. Because of that, we have many ongoing change projects and are reviewing every product from the point of view of sustainability, starting with the most popular ones.”

Eames & Vitra book
The book Eames & Vitra narrates the long collaboration between the Eames couple and Vitra. The book is compiled by Stine Liv Buur and her team.
Vitra Eames Lounge Chair
Vitra relaunched the fabric-upholstered Eames Lounge Chair in the fall of 2023.
Hang it all coat rack
The Hang it all coat rack, designed in 1953, was originally created as a playful coat hanger for children.

Are there still some old Eames treasures waiting to be relaunched?
“The archives of Vitra Design Museum contain a great deal of beautiful furniture, and we have many good ideas that may be realized when the time is right. I’ve been thinking about, for example, these beautiful tables that can be folded and hung on the wall, as well as packaged flat. The Eameses also managed to think about that, which is probably why I’m so in love with these tables.

“At the moment, our most important task is to focus on the current Eames collection and make it environmentally sustainable.”

We cannot, however, keep launching new furniture but need to ask ourselves that do we really need another chair or table in the collection, even if it was designed by Charles and Ray Eames. At the moment, our most important task is to focus on the current collection and make it environmentally sustainable.”

Eames Lounge Chair
"Eames Lounge Chair only gets better with use," Stine says. However, even classics sometimes require carefully considered updates.

What does your home look like?
“I live with my family in a small town near Basel, in a somewhat rural area. Our house is lovely, a bit like a Swiss cottage, but modern. I actually dreamed of living in this small town when we were living elsewhere. Finally, after a persistent search, I found a suitable house for us here.

Naturally, our home is decorated with many pieces by Vitra and even some by Artek, such as the Eames Lounge Chair and Aalto bench, which we are using as a coffee table. I also really like old items, which I look for at flea markets in France – the flea markets there are just the best! We live right next to the border, so I visit France at least once a month with a friend. I do, however, only buy things that I need and will be put to use, as I’m no collector.”

What is your favorite Eames product?
“I never know how to answer this question, as I think that all the items they have designed are so innovative! But if I was asked which piece of Eames furniture I use the most, my answer would be the Eames Lounge Chair. It’s my favorite chair, and I sit in it after work with my feet up on the ottoman, sinking into its embrace. And the more I use the chair, the better it becomes.”

Eames & Vitra book
Stine is well acquainted with the origins of the Eames designs found in the Vitra collection. You can read more about them in the Eames & Vitra book.

TOP3 favorites by Stine Liv Buur

1. Favorite city?
“Copenhagen, the capital of my home country. The funny thing is that it only became my favorite city when I moved abroad 10 years ago.”

2. Favorite TV series?
“Frasier is the first one that comes to mind. It always makes me laugh. The Danish series Matador is also an unrivalled masterpiece!”

3. Favorite scent?
“I love the smell of jasmine and clean linen.”

Eames favorites

Eames & Vitra book
Eames Lounge Chair
Eames Storage Unit
LTR Occasional table
Eames book
Hang it all coat rack
DSR chair
Plywood Group lounge chair

See also:

All Vitra products >
All designs by Charles & Ray Eames >

Text: Katri Keihäri Images: Vitra

Featured Eames products may not be available worldwide.

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