In 1956 Herman Miller Furniture Company released an American iconic piece of furniture they called the Eames Lounge Chair. It was the first chair that the Eames’s designed for the high-end market, and after more than 5 decades the design continues to endure with vintage pieces featured in the permanent collection at the New York’s Museum of Modern Arts. This classic luxury chair has stood the test of time and for very good reason.
Inspired by the traditional English Club Chair, the Eames Lounge Chair embodies Charles Eames vision of having a “warm, receptive look of a well-used first baseman’s mitt.” With three curved plywood shells upholstered in handsome, inviting leather, Charles and Ray may have actually had a baseball glove in mind during their initial designs of the piece.
Fast forward to production and the chair remains to this day a brilliant manifestation of the Modern Arts movement — one that ties in philosophy and art with the cultural transformations of Western society during the late 19th and 20th centuries.
“The Eames Lounge Chair and Ottoman debuted on national television in 1956. Charles and Ray Eames appeared on the NBC television network Home show hosted by Arlene Francis. Stardom ensued for both design and designers. Yet, as popular as the lounge chair and ottoman have become, they remain grounded in the handcrafted details that continue to distinguish this classic, authentic design,” according to the Herman Miller website.
When the chair was introduced to the market in 1956, there really was nothing like it. Still, to this day, no piece of furniture is equal to its design. Yet the Eames lounge chair isn’t just famous for its simplistic and fresh modern style, its recognition was gained from the highlighted versatility of the chair, and its unbeatable comfortability.
Walk into any modern showroom or even a Kardashian house and you can be sure to find the chair still holding its own against all the new 21st century decorative pieces. This piece can be found even in films.
The only setback to this classic chair is its price. It was, after all, designed as one of the only luxury Eames items. Holding a heavy price tag of near $5,000, the Eames Lounge Chair is the Birkin bag of décor and you can purchase the original on the Herman Miller website today.
Fast forward through many decades of Eames lounge chair reproduction and you’ll find that design inspiration has led to hundreds (if not thousands) of Eames Lounge Chair replicas available for a significantly lower price. If you’re like me, then you’re seeking this undisputed iconic modern design at a more economical price point. Don’t worry, this doesn’t make you cheap, nor does it mean you’re opting for cheaper quality.
The fact is not everyone is a Kardashian, a Rockefeller, or Tony Stark, but we can possess the same design taste as the icons who are lucky enough to own an Eames Chair. Lucky for us, high-quality Eames replicas do exist, and they exist at a more attractive price. Yet, the question remains – how can you tell the best replicas from the hundreds or thousands that currently saturate the market?
Let’s be honest, 20th-century fashion and décor is coming back, and with it are the hustlers who come out from the woodwork with their drop shipping stores. What makes shopping even more difficult in the 21st century is the convenience of online buying. Which is why we’ve put together a list of the top six factors you should be looking for when distinguishing whether you’ve just landed on the best Eames chair replica.
Factor 1: The Reclining Feature
Many factors separate the Eames lounge chair from a regular piece of lounge furniture, but the one which sparks the most notoriety has to be its permanent slight recline. Lounge chairs – or recliners – generally have the option to set back or forward the seating posture.
The Eames defied this normative design by creating a comfortable permanent tilt greater suited to ergonomics and the natural curve of the human spine. Reclining at a perfect 15-degree angle, the lounge chair ensures the sitter is in a perfect balance between sitting down and lying down. This is a necessary feature to have if you’re going for authenticity in your purchase. An Eames chair just isn’t the same, both in look and in comfortability, without this pivotal feature.
Factor 2: Price Point
As mentioned earlier in the article, the Eames lounge chair was created as a luxury item valued at around $5,000. Now, while replicas should offer a more economical price point, what you don’t want is a price point well below the original. An incredibly low price point may seem appealing at first, but there’s a reason why Eames’ chairs ring in at a hefty price – quality.
Eames lounge chair reproductions go anywhere from $850 and upwards, but those worth your attention ring in at around $1400 to $2500. Think about the sleek and simplistic plywood design paired with the buttery smooth leather you are purchasing. While the higher price point might seem expensive at check out, you get what you pay for over the years of use.
Factor 3: Shock Mounts & Invisible Hardware
The shock mounts… You’re probably thinking what are those? These are the most important parts of the seats as they affect both the durability and comfortability of your chair. Cheaper replicas will have undersized shock mounts that are clearly visible.
For the Eames lounge chair, the rubber shock mounts actually hold together the chairs components from the inside. This creates a seamless modern look. You’ll also notice that there are no nuts and bolts visible, the only hardware is the two spines which connect the headrest to the back seat. For a flawless finish, ensure that the replicas you purchase have this feature, or rather, not have these features visible.
Factor 4: The Foundation
The foundation or base to any piece of furniture is what brings stability and durability. For the Eames Lounge Chair, that means having a bit of an angle (rather than being steep), in its legs. The legs are not flat, and the chair also provides flexibility by having a swivel at the base.
Often the base of a replica will be constructed with square feet that are steeply inclined. Copies also have five legs rather than the four seen in an original Eames chair. Now, if you’re going for an exact replica, choose the chair that has the exact features seen in an Eames original i.e. the four legs, the swivel and the flat pivots. Some critics argue that the extra leg in replicas provides more durability, but less flexibility. Either way, the choice is in the buyer in regards to this feature. Just ensure that whichever you choose to purchase, the swivel option is present, and the foundation is sound.
Factor 5: Dimensions
One of the most noticeable features of a replica is its inaccurate dimensions. Eames Lounge Chair replicas do not have access to the patented moulds which satisfy the dimensions of the original. Which is why reproductions often involve guesswork during its creation. One of the most common complaints is that the replicas are too large, clunky and even clumsy in design.
When dimensions are off, not only is the aesthetic of the chair affected, so is the quality and the feel of the piece. An authentic Eames Lounge Chair will sport a 32-inch measurement from the floor to the top of its headrest. Due to the slight lean of the piece the edge of its front seat will be a close 15 inches above the floor. The distance across the arms, as well as the distance from the front to back, will measure 32.75 inches. All of these precise dimensions come together in an ergonomic formula created for maximum comfortability.
Factor 6: Exterior Quality
As important as the internal mechanics of the chair so is the exterior quality of the design. Adding to the hefty price point of an Eames original is the buttery smooth yet non-slip delicateness of genuine leather, which upholsters the chair.
The attention to detail in both the material and the manufacturing adds to the longevity of the Eames Lounge Chair. Vintage lounge chairs have five layers of plywood in the construction of the shells while modern versions have seven. Ensure that the shell of your replica sports an amount in between these numbers for added structure.
Finally, ensure that the cushions on your chair are removable. Replicas don’t always have this feature, which is problematic if you intend to reupholster or refurbish your piece in the future. Ensuring that the cushions are removable also ensures that the wood is veneered on both sides of your chair, a feature indicating the quality of the chair.
If you are in the market for an Eames Chair but don’t want to spend the full price, look no further. We have tested and reviewed numerous Eames Lounge Chair Replicas and found the best one at Urban Furnishing.