Is the Eames Lounge and Ottoman really that great

I happen to work in a retail position where we have an Eames Lounge and Ottoman (the chair with big leather cushions with wood shell) right in the front entrance for everyone to try. It’s the licensed version from Herman Miller so it’s true to spec, but it never ceases to amaze me at home many people think it’s uncomfortable.
“Where’s the headrest?”,
“How do I get it to tilt less?”,
“how do I change the height?” are just a few of the questions we/I get on a daily basis when people try the chair. I studied Industrial Design and furniture and was always taught that this was the quintisencial lounge chair. After gauging customer’s responses to it, I now think otherwise. I can honestly say (trust me I’ve actually kept track on several days) that 8 out of 10 people do not find the Eames lounge chair comfortable at all for legitimate reasons. I agree that in it’s day (1950’s) it was a ground breaking piece of furniture but for the Santos Palisander version to command a tag of $4,200 today, that is almost unreasonable compared to today’s standard of louge chairs. Not only that, but the chair doesn’t change and the price increase $100 every year due to Eames Office licensing and HM fees and such…
Now I know you are all going to reply with “I love that chair!!” “It’s the most comfortable chair in the world by far!” " It is such a handsome chair" " It’s the best lounge chair ever!" … But if 8 out of 10 people don’t find it comfortable, that chair does not qualify as a success in my mind.

  • If your 5’10" or taller, you won’t have head support
  • If your 5’5" or shorter, your knees will hit the front of the seat wood and probably not touch the ground.
  • If your older or have arthritis, you’ll never get out of the chair that sits only 14 inches off the ground
  • The leather is pretty poor quality by comparison. (I’ve had professional leather training by a 3rd party company)
  • The cushions are nothing but urethane foam pads. (I’ve seen them cut open and repaired)

I think it’s a good looking chair, and by no means is it “uncomfortable”, but I just don’t see how the price matches what you get. Can anyone offer some insight as why this chair is so great (aside from the fact that it was the first of it’s kind in the 50’s)?

It’s like an expensive sports car. You buy it to own it, not necessarily to use it.

Well, not true for cars like the Elise…

50 years in production says there is a demand for an icon like this.

Sure, there may be better examples now, but people still buy it. :open_mouth:

I would compare it to a classic car. The comfort standards today are far higher than in the '50’s, but people want a ‘look’. They buy it more as a conversation piece than as seating. I know if I walk into someone’s house and I see an Eames chair, I’m going to start talking about it.

Is the Eames Lounge and Ottoman really that great


Yes, it’s unbelieveably comfortable and is simply a design icon. I really, really want one for my living room.

My professor from college had one that dated back to the 70’s. He’d had it recovered once but that things was amazing.

Like a moth to a flame, people are just attracted to this beautiful piece.

The Eames lounge looks great but it’s not really supportive. You end up with a compressed lower spine. Ever see the photo of Billy Wilder sitting in it? He looks shrunken.

I have to say, when I see one in someone’s house, I figure the person either bought a repro because some magazine or website told them to.

yea. it’s a classic iconic piece and people get it for “the look” , the look that happened to be in vogue right now. this “unbelievably comfortable design icon” and other eames or a la eames pieces could be found on the side of the road in 80s and even 90s when people were getting rid of them because they looked dated at the time and people who held onto them were either appreciating it as a piece of design history or really did care about how the piece looked.

Since we’re on the subject, do any of you know where to find quality versions that aren’t ridiculously high priced? I’ve only seen them for $3K+

For a designer to have one in their living room, I think it says “I’ve arrived.” ha ha ha That, along with an aeron chain in their office! Oh wait, and a silver Audi TT in their garage (sorry Yo!.) Oh wait, and a black turtleneck sweater. Maybe 5 of those in the closet.

Mine is matte charcoal… :wink:

I did just order 2 ebony Eames LCW chairs… deceptively comfortable, I love 'em… they are on back order for 10 weeks, so either they don’t make that many, or they are in high demand.

Another person to mention is Eero Saarinen. Yes he’s an architect, but he did furnitures as well, along side with the Eames.

There’s a Saarinen exhibition going on at the Cranbrook Art Museum. Anyone in the area shouldn’t miss it. We can meet up too!

Eero is pretty much the man.

I like this photo better:)

as soft as that photo is, he’s still the man.

Yes he is. I went to the GM tech center for a symposium on Eero Saarinen yesterday and it was phenomenon. I am really glad that GM preserved much of his original designs, including the furniture.

At Cranbrook King’s Wood(girl middle school) cafeteria, Saarinen designed the chairs. The fabric was hard to maintain so they replaced them with replicas that has plastic upholstery. Still, I heard that someone was still willing to offer a crazy amount of money for the replica.

They have the original at the museum.

Hey Yo, I heard that there’s a portfolio review at CCS this coming Tuesday. You should fly down here on company’s expense and come for the exhibition!

I would love that (as I love doing those things), but I am in Boston at the moment to make some presentations. Back to PDX on Tuesday for Thanksgiving, then back to Boston the following Monday for more meetings…

Its funny you mention the Saarinen furniture at Cranbrook, back in the fifties Southern Illinois University bought a ton of furniture by Him and the Eames’ and other design superstars of the day, over the last ten years they’ve been secretly tossing them into dumpsters. I had a Design History teachor, who was horrified, she had a picture of a pile about ten feet high of chairs including the LCW’s and tulip chairs.


You could have made a fortune.

Yo, your TT is matte finish dark grey…very cool.

i wish that they could have been resqued, but apparently even though they were trash, taking them would be stealing state property, a crime we save for only the most necessary of university equipment.

anyways, I forgot to mention, that as far as the lounge chairs, I happen to love them, while my girlfriend, a photographer who is also aware of their impact on the history of design, hates them. We almost broke up… not really.