Eames Plastic Chairs
"The most of the best to the greatest number of people for the least." This was how Charles and Ray Eames described one of their primary goals as furniture designers. No other design came as close to this ideal as the Plastic Chairs. The fundamental concept of a one-piece seat shell shaped to fit the body preoccupied the designer couple for many years. After experiments with plywood and sheet aluminum in the 1940s yielded unsatisfactory results, they discovered fiberglass-reinforced polyester resin in their search for alternative materials.
Recognizing the material's advantages, the Eameses used it consistently: malleability, strength, a pleasant feel, and suitability for industrial processing. Leveraging this previously unknown material in the furniture industry, they successfully developed the shell designs for mass production. Initially presented at the Museum of Modern Art's "Low-Cost Furniture Design" competition in 1948, the plastic shells with armrests and simpler seat shells were launched in 1950—marking the inception of the first mass-produced plastic chairs in furniture history.
Simultaneously, the Eames Plastic Chairs introduced a type of furniture still widely used today: the multifunctional chair, where the shell can be combined with different bases depending on its intended use. Charles and Ray Eames introduced a range of bases for various sitting positions as early as 1950. Among these, the so-called Eiffel Tower base stands out—a delicate steel wire frame offering a unique blend of formal lightness and structural stability.
Today, Vitra manufactures comfortable seat shells for the Eames Plastic Chairs from polypropylene and for the Eames Fiberglass Chairs from fiberglass-reinforced polyester resin. They offer a variety of bases, seat shell colors, and upholstery options, allowing for countless individual combinations. These chairs find use in diverse settings: dining rooms, living rooms, home offices, offices, meeting rooms, restaurants, cafeterias, canteens, waiting areas, auditoriums, terraces, and gardens.