Modern Icons: Eames Shell Chair
Eames' Comfy Shell Chair Adds Welcome Curves, Wire or Wood to a Room
I have been putting off this ideabook for a while because this chair is so iconic, I didn't know where to start. Charles and Ray Eames experimented with molded fiberglass for many years, convinced they could find a way to mold it for maximum ergonomic comfort. They succeeded sometime around 1948. They paired this curved and comfortable seat with a variety of legs, including the chrome Eiffel base and the wooden dowel base. We're going to look at both styles today. Note: This chair has been imitated a lot; to make sure you're getting the real deal when buying new, look for the Herman Miller label.
Vintage chairs were made of fiberglass, while the new licensed versions are made of polypropylene. This is the Eiffel leg version, which is sculptural yet allows the shell to look as if it is floating.
This lovely lime version works well with the rectilinear wood table and dining bench in this eat-in kitchen nook.
Here the chairs shake up the style of another eat-in nook; all the curves in these pieces go well with the curve in the architecture's bay window. While beautiful, sometimes these kinds of spaces can be tricky to furnish. This designer deserves kudos.
Light and white, the thin metal legs help the chair appear to float in this serene room, complementing the view.
I showed you this room in a Saarinen Table ideabook not too long ago. After all, Eero and the Eames' were colleagues, so why shouldn't their pieces continue that relationship? I love that the designer of this room included one red Shell Chair to shake up the otherwise strict color palette.
The Shell Chair is also a popular desk chair. In fact, you may have grown up sitting on the stacking version when you were in school.
... the wooden dowel leg version. It really transforms this piece into a different chair. The base is more sturdy and demands more attention. It also has a pair of X shapes in its silhouette. The contrast between the shell chair and the wooden dowels is striking, no matter which color chair you choose.