You’ve come to the Designdeck today to get the lowdown on identifying authentic Eames Lounge Chairs.
The Designdeck is much like the Star Trek Holodeck, but for interior design. You see what you want to see.
I get a lot of people coming down here asking the Eames Chair authenticity question and for good reason.
You’ve made your way to the door and look stressed, ready to collapse in a heap on the floor.
You tell me you don’t have the cash to buy one outright at the moment, but you’ve been travelling all over to yard sales and the like in search of this most elusive of items.
How can you tell whether you’re about to pick up the bargain of the century or just another replica?
Don’t worry, you’ve come to the right interior design focused hologram room.
Only one exists but my point still stands.
I open the door and gently guide you into the room. The Designdeck sparks the first rendition of its living rooms into being and you’re shown a lovely setup that anyone would be proud to spend their time in.
I guide you over to the Eames Chair. You let me know you’re both intimidated and welcomed by it.
That’s how you know it demands respect, I say.
Get the magnifying glass out, it’s time to inspect this beast for all it’s worth.
All problems disappear when you’re hugged by a giant baseball mit
The designers, Charles and Ray Eames, made it their mission to create the most comfortable lounge chair possible.
“Look at the chair and tell me what it reminds you of”.
“Definitely a baseball mit”.
That’s exactly what they were intending and that’s exactly what they’ve achieved.
Sit it in.
You do and let out some unintended noise whilst your eyes are fixed on me.
A stare from you that drills into my soul and one that I wish to never repeat.
“It’s so comfortable. What is this magic?”
The truth is I can’t tell you, that’s beyond my pay grade.
However, what I can tell you is that under the hood is urethane foam which is covered with premium tufted leather.
The shell is built from plywood, seven layers in fact (five layers for vintage pieces), bent into position with a walnut or Santos Palisander veneer to create the shell.
As you can see, there are no sharp edges here which is a recurring theme in mid-century modern furnishings.
The Eames Lounge Chair comes in two sizes
The Designdeck changes the scenery to a showroom, it doesn’t want you to get distracted by anything else.
Strange, I think, because there’s now a lot more furniture in front of your eyes, but I let it do its thing.
Understanding that it’s my cue, I grab a measuring tape from my back pocket and ask you to hold the end of it.
Taking a fast step backwards, I uncurl the remainder of the tape to exactly 32.75″ and ask you to place it flush against the width of the headrest.
It fits perfectly.
I do the same with its full height, and from its underside to the wood flooring, 32″ and 15″, respectively.
All of a sudden, the chair grows in front of your eyes.
This is the tall model.
There’s now an additional 2″ on the height, 2″ on the seat depth and 0.25″ from the bottom of the seat to the base.
I can see you standing on your tiptoes, but unfortunately you’re not getting any taller to match it, sorry.
The Eames Lounge Chair is made with unrivalled precision – to ensure authenticity, start with the dimensions.
Domes of Silence speaketh the truth
Five legs make up the base of the chair and are made from die-cast aluminum and the ends are rounded.
You kneel down to take a closer look and can see the very shallow gradient that they take.
At the end of the gradient are feet. You poke them and tell me they must be rubber.
They are, but they can also be made from plastic. Their underside will have a sticker saying the comanding words Domes of Silence.
Enough of the knees, it’s time to sit again.
I place my hands on your shoulders and spin you. Three full turns, not bad but I’ve done better.
Eames Lounge Chairs rotate 360° which is a good way to identify the real deal.
You wiggle about in the chair, trying to see how far it reclines.
It doesn’t move.
A common misconception is that that you can set the Eames Chair to varying angles. The reality is that is that it’s locked in at a cool 15°.
Wingardium Leviosa on those shells
You jump up and I show you the back of the chair.
There are always 3 shells – these are the wood sections that make up the chair.
The sections are:
- The seat
- The backrest
- The headrest
Each one looks like it’s hovering. I wave a magic wand that’s just appeared in my hand – it’s like Harry Potter is in here.
A forced smile covers your face.
I have to work with what I’ve got.
Connecting the backrest and headrest are two aluminum posts with 3 screws – 1 up top and 2 down below.
Between the posts and the wood are rubber inserts that help provide flexibility (shock absorption, if you will) when someone sits in the chair.
I ask you to check the chair for any screws that might be showing.
You come back after a quick inspection and notify me that there are no exposed screws other than in the armrest.
Correct, I say. They’re black if I’m not mistaken (I’m not). Older models have 3 screws and newer ones have 2.
Mix and match the cushions
As you can see, Eames Lounge Chairs are beautifully finished leather. It’s really very uncommon to find chairs covered in fabric.
Another sign you’ve probably found a replica.
I hope you’re writing these points down.
In the center of each cushion are a couple of leather buttons and a zip that connects the cushions to the shells.
“Detach the bottom cushion”, I point to the seat of the Eames Chair.
“Now, do the same for the ottoman”. You do as I say.
A sweat’s already broken on your brow. You should get to the gym.
I ask you to do this to demonstrate that the two can interchange at a moment’s notice.
Handy if the leather on one is starting to wear and you need to swap it to even the strain out.
Or if your neighbor has the same, newer Eames Lounge Chair and Ottoman and you want to quickly exchange your worn seat for their still-durable ottoman cushion without them knowing then you can.
It’s possible. That’s all I’m saying!
The armrests curve down towards the seats. Replicas normally have flatter armrests.
Here’s the rundown
There you have it, everything to look for when on the hunt for an authetic Eames Lounge Chair.
- Height = 32″, width = 32.75″, seat to floor = 15″
- Tall models add 2″ on the height and width and 0.25″ from seat to floor
- Five legs with a shallow gradient and rounded ends
- The feet are made from rubber or plastic and have stickers with Domes of Silence underneath
- 360° rotation
- Recline is permanently at 15° angle
- Two aluminum posts connect the sections together with 1 screw at the top and 2 on the section below
- The only exposed screws are on the armrests
- Rarely any material other than leather
- The ottoman cushion and the seat cushion are the same size and interchangeable
If you’re convinced that you need an Eames Lounge Chair but can’t be bothered with the hassle of yard sales then follow the link below to buy one new.
Before you go…
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