Conceived by Charles and Ray Eames, using the moulded plywood technology they had developed for the US navy and air forces during WWII, the Eames “670″ chair was launched on Arlene Francis’s Home show on US television network NBC in 1956.
Intended to replicate “warm, receptive look of a well-used first baseman’s mitt”, it has been in continous production ever since – becoming, with its matching ottoman, the consummate lounge set.
Though copies are available from around 400 GBP, these have sbtle differences in terms of proportion and scale, and are made using poorer materials. For long-term investment and a guarantee of quality, stick to an original from Herman Miller (which produces them for the US) or Vitra (Europe)as these are made to exacting standards using the best materials.
A modern original will set you back around 4,000 GBP, depending on leather and veneer choices. Keep your eye on the salerooms as each year a number come back on the market and can be purchased for as little as 1,500 GBP, which will almost guarantee a return on investment. Not bad for a design classic that’s comfy too.
Make sure it is an original, with the relevant labels and moulded marks on the underside.
Wear is acceptable but avoid excessive damage or torn leather unless the cost reflects the work that needs to be undertaken. Collectors like to see nicely worn-in leather that has a soft and homely feel to it.
Check the outer shells are in good order. These are layers of plywood veneered in luxury timbers such as walnut or rosewood, and are prone to splits, cracks or looses to the veneers, which can weaken the chair.
Check the shocks – the little rubber discs that sit between the aluminium frame and the wooden shells – are in good order.
Original chairs can be refurbished but go to a reputable agent, such as Graham Mancha or Upholsterer London.