These Chairs Aren't Going to Sell Themselves
The Work of My Life: December 2021 Report
“It makes me feel guilty that anybody should have such a good time doing what they are supposed to do.” – Charles Eames
Charles and Ray Eames are legends of industrial design. The married couple collaborated for decades in the famous Eames Office at 901 W. Washington Boulevard in Venice, California. They focused much of their efforts on designing gorgeous but functional furniture that could be mass-produced. They were pioneers in the use of molded plywood and fiberglass, incorporating these innovative materials into their designs through direct experimentation at 901. This excerpt from a wonderful profile on the BBC’s website captures the essence of their legacy (emphasis added throughout this piece):
“After the war, a new generation of suburbanites wanted a new kind of décor, and Charles and Ray provided it. Their mission statement was bold and simple: ‘We want to make the best for the most for the least.’ Charles likened a good designer to a good host, anticipating the needs of his guests. The furniture they made was stylish and, above all, fit for purpose. No wonder it became the house style of America’s new moneyed middle class.”
In addition to being excellent designers, the Eameses were also successful architects and filmmakers. At their core, the Eameses were content creators that were well ahead of their time, which is why we are featuring them in this month’s edition of The Work of My Life. While we are huge fans of their work, what interests us most about the Eameses was their knack for a critical skill that many content creators overlook. The Eameses were outstanding marketers, and for proof we point to a product that seems to run counter to their mission as stated in the quote above – the Eames Lounge Chair.
As anyone who has ever sat in one can attest, the Eames Lounge Chair induces a strong gut feeling that it is the perfect piece of furniture. But don’t just take our word for it. This is from a November 2021 review by Elise Portale published by Architectural Digest:
“I have a confession to make: I wanted this chair to be bad. The iconic Eames design is so beloved, so coveted, a part of me really hoped it wouldn’t live up to all the hype. It has a great look, sure, but was it really so much better than any other chair? Cynicism be damned, that lounge sure is comfortable. In terms of ergonomics, the seat is permanently tilted back in a way that is almost distressingly low to the ground, but when I threw my legs up on that ottoman and let myself actually sink in, I felt as if I had never properly enjoyed a chair before in my life. Everything has been considered—sit up and enjoy a morning latte, sink down and rest your head on the rounded plush headrest, stretch out, curl in, sit sideways, swivel, rock back and forth. The Eameses built the impossible: A chair that’s comfortable no matter how you want to sit in it. I used to just flop on the sofa to chill and watch TikTok during my spare time. But since my new 65-year-old roommate moved in, I find myself with a new hobby: Sitting just to sit in it. It’s remarkable.”
Felt. Enjoyed. Remarkable. These are gut feelings, and as we explained in last month’s Work of My Life, this is the literal definition of a brand. Portale is channeling the Eames brand in her review of that chair, but what makes the product seem counter to the Eames’ mission is its price. In the US, the Eames Lounge Chair and Ottoman has been produced exclusively by Herman Miller since 1956 and procuring a new set today will cost you nearly eight thousand dollars, making it virtually inaccessible to their core mass-market customers.
The product is a quintessential example of flagship marketing – the exception that proves the rule. If the people who work in 901 can design the best chair of all time, surely the furniture they design that I can afford must be an amazing value! By curating the legend of the Eames Lounge Chair and maintaining strict adherence to its quality and price over the decades, the Eameses executed a marketing coup. The message could not be more clear: 901 is filled with design geniuses, and you will be rewarded for many years to come by buying from them!
Many people conflate marketing with market research and advertising, but we have a different definition of the word. Marketing is the consistent articulation of your brand ambition at every interface with your target customers. For final proof of the Eameses marketing chops, consider the feeling we induced in you each time we referred to the Eames Office by its nickname – 901. That building is not simply an office and prototype shop. It is 901. It has a mystique. It is iconic. It is a coveted place for aspiring designers to work. And, it is no accident that this nickname is in the design world’s lexicon – the Eameses made sure of it. The mere reference to their place of business became an expression of their brand ambition, something their target customers felt in their gut when they heard 901. Genius, indeed.
We don’t write about the Eameses to compare ourselves to them, but rather to learn from them. With Doomberg, we aspire to create a great brand and to market it to the best of our abilities. Many writers recoil at the thought of having to proactively promote their content – they feel producing great writing should be enough, and that engaging in purposeful marketing somehow cheapens their work. On the contrary, we believe failing to do so merely condemns it to the crowded bin of great writing rarely read.
December was another fantastic month of growth for the Doomberg team and, as usual, we openly share our progress below. We turned in substantial growth in cumulative total views, Substack email subscribers, and Twitter followers. Our most recent piece, New England is An Energy Crisis Waiting to Happen, has generated more than 82,000 views on Substack, a new record for us.
Articles published: 78
Total views: 1,720,957 (+48%)
Email subscribers: 20,379 (+29%)
Twitter followers: 27,700 (+37%)
We’ve spoken to dozens of content creators during this incredible journey. Many of them ask how we have achieved such rapid growth in only eight months. We respond by asking them two simple questions: what is your brand ambition, and what are you doing to market it?
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