Eames Lounge Chair

Eames Lounge Chair

The ergonomic design the Eames team came up with in 1956 featured two pieces: the chair itself and the Ottoman that, when sold originally, formed part of a set. Nowadays, they are often sold as separate pieces. The original Eames Lounge Chair first came onto the market in 1956, the result of designs by husband and wife team, Charles and Ray Eames who spent years developing its unique design for the furniture company, Herman Miller, whom they worked for. The Eames Lounge Chair was formulated from leather and molded plywood. The self-same model today, along the same lines as the 670 model and produced for the high-end replica market would set you back between $ 4 – 6,000.

The original model was manufactured from veneers of Brazilian rosewood, processed into a unique plywood veneer. However, the base of the replica Eames Lounge Chair is manufactured from seven wafers of wood veneer shaped into its characteristic plywood design under the application of intense heat and pressure. Rubber spacers, originally separating the spines of the chair were replaced in the replica version with hard plastic washers and, where the original model often featured a brown zip around the cushions, the replica zips were always black.

The Technology Behind the Design

The 670 model replica features the original design more closely than other replica Eames Lounge Chair. This replica chair incorporates much of the original technology that made these chairs so popular in their heyday, most especially featuring rubber washers as opposed to the plastic variety used in the earlier replica models. Aluminum supports attach the backrest to the headrest, the whole chair being supported in a cradle between the two arm rests.

In the original Eames Lounge Chair heavy rubber washers were glued to the backrest of the chair as well as being screwed into the lumbar supports, enabling the chair to flex with the movement of the body. Besides enabling the chair to flex from the backrest, rubber washers also supported the armrests where they met the interior shell that forms the backrest. The whole chair is supported on an aluminum swivel base so that, whilst the whole chair is able to turn, the plywood veneers maintain the shape of the chair into a permanently reclining position.

Design Flaws

In a way, these chairs were experimental creations, possibly one of the earliest of today’s ergonomic furniture designs. It’s easy to recognize in retrospect, but there were certain flaws in the original design that were not immediately obvious when the original Eames Lounge Chair came on the market. One of these was found to be the rubber washers – their greatest innovation which could actually damage the chair’s fabric through wear and tear. Rubber becomes brittle when it ages, and loses its rebound factor after being compressed. Aside from that, these rubber washers were soundly glued into position on the plywood veneer shells and, if too much excess weight was applied to these shells, they were known to rip the plywood apart.

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