The Eames Lounge Chair is undoubtedly one of the most popular lounge chairs ever made. The iconic chair was released by The Herman Miller Company in 1956 and is here to stay. Do you dream of such a beautiful copy? We share 5 facts about this legendary lounge chair and we spoke to Aksel, Eames connoisseur and trader, about the differences between the vintage and recent models of this chair.
Did you know that the Eames Lounge Chair was designed by an American couple? Charles Ormond Eames and Bernice Alexandra "Ray" Kaiser met while attending the Michigan Art Academy in 1940. The couple worked together for four decades on the greatest design classics and have had a pioneering influence on modern architecture, furniture design, industrial design and the photographic art.
The first Eames Lounge Chair cost about US$300. That may sound cheap, but before then it was about as much as a middle class salary for two months. Fun fact: the most expensive Lounge Chair at the moment is the Vitra Santos with rosewood and premium leather. This costs, with footstool, about € 10,300.
Unlike other Eames designs, the Lounge Chair is a real 'slump'. Charles and Ray Eames looked at American baseball, and used the baseball glove as inspiration for the design.
Originally, the American furniture brand The Herman Miller Company produced the Eames Lounge Chair. Not long after, the European Vitra signed a licensing agreement and the Lounge Chair was produced for the European market. The first Vitra & Eames chairs still have an old label, which says 'Herman Miller International Collection'. Since 1984, all Vitra & Eames Lounge Chairs have their own label, so that it is always clear from which factory these lounge chairs come.
The Lounge Chair regularly shines on the silver screen. For example, you see the chair in a scene of the James Bond film Casino Royale. But also in Girl, Iron Man, Sunday In New York and the Gossip Girl and House series.
Is the Eames Lounge Chair high on your wish list? Then it might be useful to know what the biggest differences are between the vintage and the recent models. Aksel, who is an Eames collector, seller and connoisseur, explains:
When do we speak of a vintage Lounge Chair? Aksel: “Opinions are divided on that. Some consider a chair to be vintage when it has been used. But to me, an Eames Lounge Chair is vintage when it is at least 30-45 years old. So all models that came out around 1985 and older.”
What are the main differences between the vintage and more recent editions? “When you put all the Eames Lounge Chairs from the past 66 years side by side, the end product is very similar. Still, the early vintage ones produced before 1964 have significant differences. For example, the wooden panels of the first lounge chairs, produced from 1956 to about 1962, consist of five layers of veneer. Later models have seven layers of veneer.
The filling of the cushions and armrests of the Eames Lounge Chairs up to the year 1963/1964 are filled with duck feathers, while the cushions of the recent models are often filled with foam. Also, some of these chairs have a solid metal backrest and base. Another important detail of the vintage lounge chairs is the rubber frame that is used as a shock absorber. Herman Miller still uses rubber, while Vitra uses plastic shock absorbers. A handy trick to spot earlier models before 1963 is to look at the underside of the armrests. The first generation of the lounge chair has three screws, while the later models after 1963 have two screws.”
How can owners keep the chair in good condition? “Make sure the chair is not in direct sunlight, so that the color of the leather and wood remains beautiful. Treat the leather and wood once or twice a year with special care products. It is best to have this done by an experienced restorer. Then your lounge chair will last a lifetime!”
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