The Eames Lounge Chair and Ottoman, which was first mass produced in 1956 after going through multiple rounds of testing and re-testing, redesigning and refining, remained exactly the same for over 50 years, completely unchanged in look, materials, finish, and impact. That’s no small feat. Many pieces of furniture, even iconic ones, often go through several iterations, versions, and looks, based on the whims of the designer, the public, critics, and the needs of the present. It is a great chair, a classic chair, that can resist the temptation to change for that many decades, in the face of that many changes in culture, taste, and furniture.
However, there are needs in the modern world that weren’t being addressed by the manufacturers of the Eames Lounge Chair and Ottoman. For instance, the molded plywoods that were used at the inception of the chair have become rare and less sustainable as building materials over the years. Additionally, the chair itself wasn’t particularly environmentally sound; it wasn’t recyclable, nor was it composed of recycled materials, nor was it built with full attention given to environmental concerns.
All of that has changed, due to the influence of Dutch designer Hella Jongerius, who was trusted by the makers and manufacturers of the Eames Lounge Chair to make some small cosmetic adjustments to the chair. In addition to her work, furniture company Herman Miller, whom the Eames’ trusted to make and market their chair for decades, have made some bigger changes that have nothing to do with the aesthetic of the chair. They have gone back into the construction process, and in a manner that befits a company with such a rich environmental record, they have made the Eames Lounge Chair and Ottoman more responsible, green, and sustainable than it’s ever been before.
The original, and still available, version of the chair came in rosewood and black leather. This was a beautiful combination that has and will continue to serve the chair very well. However, the needs of the marketplace have created a demand for a new version, one outfitted in white leather. Of course, when that color leather was added, another color and finish of wood had to be added as well.
Hella Jongerious, the Dutch designer in charge of these new changes, has given the Eames Lounge Chair and Ottoman a version which specifies off-white leather cushions, light-toned plywood shells and a polished aluminium base. This is an equally lovely chair in comparison with its other iteration. This new vision of the chair is lovely, well-designed, and tastefully done. Applause is due to Ms. Jongerius for adjusting a classic without damaging it in any way.
As for Herman Miller, the new chair has been composed of recycled material, and is itself about a third recyclable. Of course, we don’t anticipate that you’ll ever want to part with your Eames Lounge Chair and Ottoman. It’s too valuable as an heirloom and prized possession, a piece of museum quality work right in your own home.