Eames fiberglass chairs

Eames fiberglass chairs

Images: © Eames Office, LLC

Charles and Ray Eames are ranked among the most important designers of the 20th century. In the early 1940s, they were the first to be able to design and mass produce molded plywood furniture with curves. Their work attracted the attention of the military at the start of World War II. The Eameses were involved in the war effort designing molded plywood stretchers and aircraft parts.

After the war, they continued their work in furniture design, choosing only four.

They built their own house and studio in 1949 located at 203 North Chautauqua Boulevard in the Pacific Palisades neighborhood of Los Angeles as part of Arts & Architecture magazine's case study program. The Eames House, now a museum, is considered a classic of modern residential architecture.

In addition to their furniture design, the couple Charles and Ray Eames wrote a number of books, produced exhibitions, films and created toys. In 1950, the Eameses made their first film Traveling Boy.

The achievements of Charles and Ray Eames are numerous. They notably participated in the 1964 Universal Exhibition, in the design development at the National Aquarium in 1966 in the USA or at Charles Norton's conference at the 1971 computer exhibition.

Images: Apartment Therapy

Our Eames chairs, here

The birth of the fiberglass chair and Eames

It all began in 1948 during a competition organized by the Museum of Modern Art in New York. The Eameses' problem was to create a chair to meet the post-war needs of furnishing middle-class American homes. It was then that they presented their prototype fiberglass chair. Due to its originality, the Eames won second place in the competition.

A year later, they contacted a factory to mass-create the first one-piece molded fiberglass chair. They thus managed to respond to their problem: creating a conceptual chair that could be mass-produced for average Americans.

How to distinguish an Eames chair?

Eames chairs were the first chairs made from mass-dyed fiberglass with a one-piece shell and a choice of different bases.

The main characteristics of these chairs are as follows:

  • Their colors: the first version of the Eames chair was available in 11 colors. But over time, 16 new colors have been added to the range.
  • Their engraving: Eames chairs are in fact engraved under the shell. This engraving also allows us to date the series of the chair.
  • Fiberglass: it is possible to see the fiberglass edging on the shell of the chair with the naked eye. Today, fiberglass like asbestos is no longer used; recent Eames chairs are made from plastic.

All these essential characteristics will allow you to distinguish a real Eames chair from a fake one, and a real vintage Eames chair from the 1950s - 1960s versus a more recent Eames chair.

What editions of Eames chairs are there?

Following the success of the chair, Les Eames developed 9 editions through the ages. The first of these is therefore the Eames chair created in 1950 following the MomA competition in New York. Zenith Plastics was the first factory to produce Eames chairs and it was Herman Miller who distributed them. The second edition of the Eames chairs was made in 1953 again by the production of the Zenith Plastics factory. This second generation is characterized by its red label with the name of Charles Eames below the chair.

From 1953 to 1957 following the growing success of his chairs, Charles Eames decided to accelerate production, this time through two new factories: Summit Plastics and Cincinnati Milacron. These chairs are called Transitional Chairs and are recognizable by their label below the chair on which the patent is written.

Between 1953 and 1970, a new generation of Eames chairs was released: the Cincinnati Milacron, produced in Ohio, this generation is recognizable by its Herman Miller logo.

Cock-a-doodle Doo ! Between 1972 and 1989 and following a collaboration between Herman Miller and Mobilier International, the Eames chair was this time produced in France, and more particularly in Tours. This is the beginning of the internationalization of the Eames chair. A Mobilier International label can be found under the chair.

Finally, between 1972 and 1989 it was the turn of the German company Vitra to resume the production of Eames chairs for the international market. The chairs in this series are recognizable by their M or V molded directly into the plastic below the chair.