A Brief History Of The Range And Its Design
Herman Miller first introduced the Eames Aluminum Group seating range in 1958, based on a design by Charles and Ray Eames and it was originally intended for the leisure market, primarily outdoor domestic use.
The original model EA105 chair with its simple lightweight aluminum frame, slim-line upholstery and clean lines, would really have stood out from the typical 1950s office chair. And even today, its design is instantly recognizable.
The upholstery is constructed in one continuous piece and then stretched and gripped tightly between the aluminum side supports and tensioned at each end of the frame. This allows the upholstery to mold comfortably to the user’s body.
The chair’s seat and back are made in a single shell and this is attached to the base and swivel support by a U shaped aluminum under support, incorporated into the seat and back frame.
Originally the chairs had a four star base, but with the advent of the safer five star base this was superseded and offers improved stability.
So, if you want a true original, then you’ll have to buy one of the early models but finding one in good condition could prove difficult as well as costly.
The Current Product Range
Today, the aluminum group chairs are invariably used in the office environment and the range has been extended and updated over the years.
This began eleven years after the original chairs were introduced, when the Eames designed a more generously upholstered range known as the Soft Pad option. Instead of the ultra slim upholstery of the first models, they offered an alternative with two inch thick urethane foam encapsulated with polyester batting for strength.
In the past few years the upholstery options of the range have been extended by the additional offering of a mesh upholstery, Cygnus.
Although purists may disapprove of this it does give the product the original slim line look and even enhances it as the material is translucent and so it highlights the classic form of the aluminum frame.
Surely Charles and Ray Eames would have utilized this material had it been available at the time.
The Eames Aluminum Group Range
There are 3 main models of office chair in the range, a side chair, a management chair and an executive chair. Additionally there is also a lounge chair and Ottoman too.
So, what are the differences between the 3 main models?
The Aluminum Side Chair
Designed to be a meeting or side chair this is actually the closest model to the original EA105.
It is a fixed seat height chair (18.5 inches) with a 5 star swivel base on glides, as it’s really intended to be used in relatively static environments.
It is offered in a wide variety of fabrics and leathers as well as the Cygnus mesh option. It is also available in Soft Pad, although this is less popular as the bulkier upholstery tends to detract from the original slim line concept.
This is essentially built around the same chair shell as the side chair, but has the addition of gas lift height adjustment between 17 – 20 inches when fitted with casters or 1 inch less if on glides. Normally, casters are the normal choice but glides can be useful if you intend to use the chair for meetings.
The chair is offered with a fixed arm and the overall maximum back height is 33.75 inches.
This is just a higher backed version of the management chair and offers the user an additional 9.25 inches of back height, giving a maximum back height of 42.5 inches. So if you prefer a high back chair then this is the model to go for.
What’s the best way to get hold of one of these Eames Aluminum Group chairs?
If you are interested in owning an Eames aluminum chair, you can buy both offline and online.
If you’d rather buy offline then you just need to contact one of Herman Miller’s appointed distributors and if you live near a major city this shouldn’t be too difficult.