Its brightly coloured lollipop balls grace many a hallway although they are often obscured by the coats they were created to hold. The Hang-It-All is a classic set of hooks by those masters of modernist design Mr and Mrs Eames.
In the mid 1940s Charles and Ray began designing products for children, including their colourful moulded plywood animals (another classic that is still in production today) building blocks, masks and then, in 1953 the Hang-It-All, which was designed to encourage children to hang up their belongings.
A picture of it can be seen in the background of their own home in the Pacific Pallisades – although the couple had no children together, Charles had a daughter, Lucia, from his first marriage.
The hanger was produced using the technology that the couple later developed for their famous wire-based chairs and tables. A spokesman for The Design Museum explained how the couple started their business from the spare room in their rented flat where they installed a homemade moulding machine dubbed the Kazam, after the saying “ala kazam”, because they fed in wood and glue and out came moulded plywood. Their first product was a plywood leg splint based on Charles’ own leg. An order for 5,000 followed from the US Navy and production was able to move out of the spare room. In their new workshop, they continued to experiment with chairs, tables and the toy animals. Finally Herman Miller, the US furniture company (which still makes their work to this day) put some of their designs into production. Two years ago, it produced a limited edition version with black frame and plain walnut hooks. It was very beautiful but a lot less fun.
Joanna Moore, of Vitra, which holds the European licence for Eames, says: “It’s a perennially popular piece and although it was designed for children, it appeals just as much to adults.
“The evenly spaced balls allow it to be added to endlessly and it’s also very kind to coats as it doesn’t leave a point in them.”
The couple continued to make furniture right into the 1970s although it is probably for the 1956 chair and ottoman that they remain most famous.
These days the Hang-It-All is regarded by many as a piece of art in its own right although it seems a shame that to use it is to hide it.
First published in The Independent