What are the Differences Between a Vintage and a Replica Eames Lounge Chair?

The best way to know if the armchair you're looking at is a real Eames armchair or a reproduction is to study it closely. Just like with money, you look at the real thing long enough and you'll know if something is wrong. There are a few things to consider when identifying an Eames armchair. The materials used, its quality, durability and comfort have made it very popular.

The upholstery, cushions and leather used in the chair are also of high quality. The original Eames armchair used 100 percent pure full-grain Italian aniline leather, which comes from the back of the cow and is of the highest quality. Good replicas of Eames armchairs insist on using the same leather, which is very durable and lasts a long time without being damaged. It is also very easy to clean.

The shell of the chair is also important to consider. The “real” Herman Miller has changed to polypropylene, while the “copies” of Modernica are made of original fiberglass. Poor replicas will have visible nuts and bolding and the finish won't be very clean or smooth. Charles Eames described that he wanted the chair to give off the “warm and responsive look” of a widely used first base glove.

The quality of the replicas increases with the number of features that they successfully replicate in this chair. Buying a replica of an Eames chair, despite its high price, is a very good purchase because this chair is very durable and you can use it for different years. The biggest difference, from a structural point of view, between the old imitations and the authentic ones is that the plywood cases of the Eames chair are continuous, without any exposed hardware (except, of course, the vertical braces that hold the central and upper shell together). Now HM manufactures them in plastic and neither they nor the Eames heirs will allow Modernica to sell their chairs as real Eames chairs.

Dimensions are also important to consider when looking for an authentic Eames chair. The main complaint from customers is that the replicas do not have the correct dimensions. Charles and Ray Eames are known for their honest use of materials and exposed structure, but they also believed in elegant solutions to complex engineering problems, such as how to hold this beautiful thing together. The Eames Lounge has 4 oval cushioning supports, attached to the inside of the wooden case, to the upper tips of the lower case and to the “ears” of the central case.

Unlike the original one, this chair offers three different wood veneers (walnut, rosewood and white oak), but at no additional cost. Herman Miller, the company that manufactures the original Eames armchairs, offers a wide range of upholstery. It's as if the manufacturers were trying to reproduce the original Eames chair in every possible way, down to the smallest detail. Knowing these differences between vintage and replica Eames lounge chairs can help you make an informed decision when purchasing one.

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