Eames chairs are chairs designed by the celebrated by the American designers Charles and Ray Eames.
Eames Lounge Chair
The classic Eames Lounge chair is an iconic piece of 20th century design, which was highly influential and remains popular to this day.
The chair is a reclining lounge chair, usually combined with an ottoman, created from curved, moulded plywood shells and leather cushions. They were first produced in 1956 for the Herman Miller furniture company, and have been reproduced in many forms ever since. Its design was based around the principles of the Mid 20th Century Modern style, which combined clean lines and forms with modern production techniques and materials. The designers within the movement had a belief in well-designed, functional furniture that could be produced cheaply and was affordable to the masses.
The original chairs featured shells manufactured from five layers of plywood combined with Brazilian Rosewood veneers, and swivel on a cast aluminium base. Modern versions are constructed using seven layers of veneer, and Brazilian Rosewood is no longer used since 1992 when it was declared as endangered.
Eames Lounge Chair Wood
The Eames Lounge Chair Wood was a smaller, plywood lounge chair also produced for the Herman Miller furniture company in a number of variations, many of which are still currently sold. They were first produced in 1946, and followed by the narrower Dining Chair Wood, along with the Lounge Chair Metal and Dining Chair Metal which featured the same plywood designs set on metal frames.
The wide number of veneer finishes available has made the Lounge Chair Wood highly popular with collectors, and original examples can be difficult to find in good condition.
Collecting Eames chairs
The difficulty in collecting Eames chairs is the sheer number of fakes and reproductions on the market. The design is so iconic that almost every company has built their own variation on it, but only those produced by the original licenser Herman Miller are classed as being 'authentic'. The company continues to sell Eames chairs today, with new Lounge Chairs retailing for around $3,500.
The original 1950s Eames chairs are highly sought after by collectors, particularly the Brazilian Rosewood models which are no longer available. These can often sell for more than $10,000 if in excellent condition.
There are a number of ways in which you can spot originals from fakes and reproductions. These include:
- Original Lounge chairs will always have a five-legged base, with the ottoman using a four-legged base.
- The authentic chairs do not recline. They are designed in a fixed recline, but do not move back and forth.
- Original chairs will never feature any visible screws or bolts, as this idea of no visible fixings was a specific part of the Eames design.
The Eames chair is a true icon of 20th century design, and as such original examples are amongst the most sought after of all collectible vintage furniture.
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