The real Questions are : Does is solve s problem? Is it serviceable? How will it look in ten years? Charles Eames
The Eames Story
Charles and Ray Eames are the couple that shaped the way we live today. The two designers crossed artistic genres with their insightful architecture and furniture and have left a lasting legacy on the world of design. They are two of the most influential and well renowned furniture designers, but they also evolved into cultural ambassadors, influencing positive change with the US government and established businesses to modernise post war America. “We don’t do art - We solve problems’ Charles Eames
One of Charles and Ray Eames most enduring furniture designs is the iconic shell chair, which remain as popular today as when they were first released in 1950.
In celebration of this design icon and the lasting success of the designs, Vitra have released a brand new palette of 14 colours in collaboration with the Eames family. Uniting both the fiberglass and plastic versions of the chair.
“What works good is better than what looks good because what works good lasts’
Charles and Ray Eames first became inspired to design a comfortable chair in 1939 and they began working on the concept in their studio. The designers are notorious for designing to solve problems. After listening to the problems friends and family faced the aim was to create affordable pieces that made a great design accessible to everybody. It finally came to life in 1950 with the introduction of the Eames Shell Chair. The chairs behold a truly timeless silhouette whilst challenging the idea of what a chair should be. Decades later, it remains a gracious expression of the Eames desire to make the “The best for the most for the least”
A Brief History
In the 1930s and 1940s Charles and Ray Eames set out to create a new furniture typology that met the needs of a rapidly changing society. In 1930 Charles Eames and Eero Saarinen collaborated to experiment with moulded plywood, which led to the creation of the organic chair. Although it won first prize at MoMA’s Organic Design competition in 1940, it couldn’t be produced in the quantities the Eames desired, and so it went back to the drawing board.
Many more years were spent exploring the idea of a moulded shell that fit the contours of the human body, which finally led the Eames’s to plastic reinforced fibreglass. This offered mould ability, tactility and also was suitable for mass industrial manufacturing. The design duo then went on to launch the first mass-produced shell chair in 1950.
The chair was a practical robust design that was easy to clean and was appropriate for all sorts of situations from the office to the living room. It wasn’t long before the chair was seen in homes, workspaces and public buildings across the globe. It was at the peak of success doe four decades, however the environmental impact of fibreglass production began to be called into question.
New Materials for a Sustainable Generation
The fibreglass chair was discontinued in 1933, which then followed years of exploring more sustainable options. In 1998 a solution was found and the chair was reintroduced with the shell in polypropylene, a thermoplastic polymer, and thanks to the new high tech production process, Vitra was able to reintroduce the fibreglass version of the Eames Shell Chairs in 2018.
Although models and materials have developed over time for a mass produced chair with a single shell, the strength of the design concept has meant the Eames shell chairs have remained continually popular for over seven decades.
The chairs are divided into groups of neutral, medium and bright shades. This new palette has been inspired by the original tones picked by Charles and Ray Eames in the 1940’s and 1950’s. This new palette of colours highlights the special properties of both fibreglass and polypropylene plastic finishes, allowing the two types of shell chair to be styled together harmoniously.