Designer Chairs by Charles Eames
Over the course of their career, Charles and Ray Eames designed a number of different chairs, including an office chair, a lounge chair and several dining chairs, most famous of which are designated as DSW, DSR and DAW. As with many designer chairs, the choice of materials and upholstering type, and many different factors influence the price of the product. Here, we will examine those factors and give you a brief look at the history and the legacy of the Eames couple’s work.
DSW, DSR and DAW Models
All of these chairs have some obvious common features, most prominently, the curved plastic back made in one piece which hints at a strong stylistic relation between these modes. This same characteristic is also shared by the Eames’ rocking chair but can be absent in some other models that are distinctly different. Most well-known of them is the Eames’ office chair, with back and seat made upholstered with leather for the highest possible comfort. However, even though the office chair is designed with different function and different materials in mind, visually it still appears that it is made out of one coherent piece since the chair doesn’t have any visible joining.
From Fibreglass to Plastic
DSR, DSW and DAW were originally produced with a fiberglass seat, but since this material isn’t recyclable, the manufacturer stopped the production after 36 years in 1993 for environmental reasons. Instead, they started to produce the chair in the eco-friendly plastic material polypropylene. Despite the change in materials, the Eames’ chairs are just as comfortable and solid as the original chairs from 1950.
At the time, the Eames’ chairs were the first plastic chairs to be industrially manufactured. The chair seat or shell, how it is also called, is available in 14 different colours. The polypropylene is dyed-through, most often in black and white, since these classic colours ensure elegant look which fits in every room, regardless of the style.
However, the other colour variants are also very popular, since vivid colours not only make the chair more unique but also revive the aesthetics of the 1950s period in America, when these chairs were first designed. So, while black and white are classics, why not try a green, red, blue or mustard yellow and jazz up your dining room or office with a unique stylistic expression.
With these three models, the Eames couple introduced an innovative base made of chromed steel wire. The outdoor variation of the chair is also available, with a black lacquered base.
Eames' DSR Chair
While all of the Eames’ designer chairs are considered to be commercially successful and critically acclaimed, DSR manages to stand out as probably the most popular chair designed by Charles and Ray Eames. Originally created in 1948, the chair was re-launched in 2004 when it once again found its place in countless homes, cafeterias and conference rooms. Its light and functional but elegant design makes it fit in a variety of different contexts.
DSR Chair Dimensions:
|Seat height||43 cm|
Eames' DSW Chair
DSW is a further development of DSR, with same organic, curved shape of the seat, but the base is made of a wooden maple frame in natural, dark stained or black painted finish. As with DSR, the chair is available in 14 different colours. White or black chairs with a wooden base are a very popular choice in Denmark and are considered a safe choice due to their simple elegance.
DSW chair dimensions:
|Seat height||43 cm|
Eames' DAR Chair
DAR is yet another design based on the Eames’ DSR, but in this variant, the shell itself has been changed to accommodate armrests. The shell has been shaped so that it closes around the body to a greater extent, providing more support and comfort if one wishes to sit and relax. Furthermore, DAR also borrows from the DSW design by utilizing the same base made of maple wood. Thus, while all three models share almost identical shells, it’s the bases where they differ the most.
DAR is also available in a wide range of colours and has the same dimensions and, like the other two, it comes with felt pads under the base so it doesn’t damage the floors. In addition, you can also buy plastic pads if you have a carpet on the floor.
History and Development
Charles and Ray Eames originally designed their fiberglass chair in 1950 for the competition “Low-Cost Furniture Design”, organized by the Museum of Modern Art in New York. Besides the change of the seat material from fiberglass to plastic, other changes have also been made to ensure that the chair still provides the same comfort and fit with the decoration styles of the modern time. Therefore, the manufacturer, Vitra, has increased the height of the chair by 2cm over the years to accommodate our increasing average height.
More recently, the seat height of the chairs has been changed from 41cm to 43cm.
Purchasing the Eames' Chairs Second-Hand?
If you get lucky and find a good offer on the various websites, you can buy all of the three models, DSR, DSW and DAW, second-hand. A couple of obvious places to look would be eBay, Gumtree, Trendsales, groups on Facebook, local dealers of secondhand furniture in your town and auction websites such as Lauritz.
Second-hand Eames’ chairs can have some scratches and imperfection, so always check the chairs thoroughly before buying. Do the surface of the seat and the back still look nice? Is the base firmly attached to the shell?
Find your Price
The prices for these three designer chairs in the original version from the Danish resellers are:
- DSR: 2.600kr. (£300 / $390)
- DSW: 4.000kr. (£470 / $600)
- DAW: 4.000kr. (£470 / $600)
The price for a copy from Ireland is about a tenth of an original, while a second-hand fluctuate from seller to seller.
Do you Need a Cushion for your Chair?
The Eames’ chairs are all very comfortable since the polypropylene moulds to fit the body. Thus, you do not need a cushion to sit comfortably in the chair. However, there are always individual preferences, so if you are among those who prefer to have an extra soft seat, this is, of course, an obvious option. The same applies if you are very sensitive to cold and want a little extra heat on your bottom.