Vitra relaunches the fabric-upholstered Eames Lounge Chair – the iconic armchair is as practical as it is luxurious

The classic Eames Lounge Chair was designed by Charles and Ray Eames to improve on something that already existed. The same kind of thinking still prevails at Vitra, which is now relaunching the fabric-upholstered version of the Lounge Chair. Slightly less-well known than the chair, the story behind it began already in the late 1950s.

Eames Lounge Chair and Ottoman
The fabric-upholstered Eames Lounge Chair has made a comeback.

WHEN SOMETHING IS SAID to fit like a glove, the image that first comes to mind is that of a skillfully lined and carefully stitched handmade leather glove.

In 1956, when designing the Eames Lounge Chair, the designer couple Charles and Ray Eames were also thinking about something worn on a hand: a baseball glove. The starting point for the process was redesigning the traditional English leather club chair with the focus on high-quality materials and uncompromising craftsmanship.

Innovative structure

Inspired by the receptive look of the baseball glove, the Lounge Chair was designed to be an improved, elegant version of the traditional, sturdy leather armchairs popular at the time – but even more comfortable.

After numerous experiments with different materials and techniques, the flexible and contouring structure of the chair was achieved using molded plywood, padding and leather that softens and gains beautiful patina in use. The five-pointed aluminum base was equipped with a swivel mechanism, and a matching Lounge Ottoman was created for putting the feet up to maximize comfort.

Charles and Ray Eames sitting in their living room.
The Eames Lounge Chair was already in prime position in the living room of the Eames House back in the day. Image ©: J. Poul Getty Trust. Getty Institute, LA

The prototype of the chair found its place in Eames House, which served as Charles and Ray’s home, studio and test laboratory of sorts. Eames House was the place where the couple tested their designs in everyday use. Eventually, the first Lounge Chair became such an integral part of their living room that it was left as is in the same place where visitors can now admire it almost 70 years later.

Eames Lounge Chair and Ottoman
The leather-upholstered Eames Lounge Chair with its ottoman is a beloved design classic.
The backside of the Eames Lounge Chair
The veneer-clad, molded plywood frame gives the Lounge Chair its distinctive shape.

Experiments with fabric

Fabric-upholstered versions of the Eames Lounge Chair were already made during the design stage, but they were only produced for a few years in the late 1950s. Just as the classic leather-upholstered version, they embodied Charles and Ray’s idea of combining different colors, shapes and textures to achieve something extremely comfortable and inviting.

Rare footage of the first fabric-upholstered Lounge Chairs shows how great an impact the choice of upholstery material has on the character of the chair: the soft wool fabric looks warm and inviting and the chair perfect for curling up in.

Fabric-upholstered Eames Lounge Chair
In 2023, Vitra reintroduced the fabric-upholstered Eames Lounge Chair and its matching ottoman to the market.
Fabric-upholstered Eames Lounge Chair
The lounge chair is upholstered in wonderfully lively Nubia bouclé fabric.

Alternative to leather upholstery

In 2023, Vitra relaunched the fabric-upholstered version of the Eames Lounge Chair and an ottoman. This version of the Lounge Chair meets today’s growing demand for different material options and combinations.

Nowadays, you can create a unique chair by choosing your favorites from a selection of sustainably grown wood species, finishes and vegetable tanned leather in a variety of colors – not to forget the new choice of the wool fabric called Nubia. The soft wool-blend fabric is extremely abrasion resistant and easy to keep clean. If necessary, the covers made of the Nubia fabric can also be removed and thus even replaced with new ones.

Veneer options for Eames Lounge Chair
In addition to upholstery, different veneer options also change the appearance of the lounge chair.
Assembling the Eames Lounge Chair
The Eames Lounge Chair is assembled by hand at Vitra's factory.
A black Eames Lounge Chair
Vitra offers a 10-year warranty for new Eames Lounge Chairs.

Assembled in 47 steps

Eames Lounge Chair offers a perfect combination of comfort, high-quality materials and excellent craftsmanship. The Lounge Chairs are still manufactured by Vitra in the same uncompromising way as Charles and Ray Eames originally designed. Most of the manufacturing stages are manual, and the different components are assembled carefully in 47 steps.

The new perspective on design, experimentation with materials and uncompromising craftsmanship resulted in an armchair that is as relevant today as it was almost 70 years ago when first introduced. The collaboration that began in 1957 between Vitra and Charles & Ray Eames still continues, now between Vitra and Eames Office representing the Eames family. The chair's story is getting new chapters with Vitra, and the Eames Lounge Chair remains one of the most beloved design classics.

Vitra Sessions: Eames
Vitra Sessions will delve into the Eameses' production and classics in October 2023.

Vitra Sessions: Eames

VITRA SESSIONS is a free digital event that you can join and watch directly on Vitra's website. The session, which focuses on the versatile production of the Eameses, will be released on Thursday, October 19, 2023.

In this half-hour session, their grandchildren, Eames Demetrios and Lucia Dewey Atwood, provide an exclusive tour of the Eames House in Pacific Palisades, Los Angeles. Other highlights include exploring the Eames collection at the Vitra Design Museum and a look at how Vitra maintains its classics.

More info: Vitra Sessions >

More Eames favorites

Eames Lounge Chair
Eames & Vitra
Eames DSR chair
Hang it all coat rack
Eames Lounge Chair
Eames Storage Unit ESU
Eames LTR Occasional table
Plywood Mobile

See also:

Eames & Vitra book >
All designs by Charles & Ray Eames >

Text: Jenna Kiuru Images: Vitra

Featured products may not be available worldwide.

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