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Eames Lounge Chair copies... worth it?

Gibonius

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Looks like they won't ship outside of Canada anymore. Did they say they'll still ship to the US?
 
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Nakedsnake

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Looks like they won't ship outside of Canada anymore. Did they say they'll still ship to the US?
No word on that, as I didn't inquire, but it looks like they won't. And since they said they're getting out of the game, I doubt that will change. You could look at someone forwarding you one, if you're that interested?
 

Nakedsnake

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So I thought I would follow up on my chair from IFN; as I found it was really tough to find reviews from people who were a touch more well known within the SF community.

The chair arrived a couple of weeks ago, maybe two, and i've been using it daily since. I emailed IFN looking for the eames, and they told me that they were no longer making these chairs, and that they were getting out of the repro business to focus on making their own stuff (make of that what you will.). As they were now "old stock" they gave me 10% off the order. I went with the upgraded leather option, the black analine, and the total came to somewhere around $1500 cdn at the time, give or take a bit, with taxes and shipping from Vancouver included.

The shipping was quick enough, and when the chair came, it was well packaged. The box has zero instruction, but it was still very simple to put together, with only a couple of bolts needed, it probably took me 20 minutes by myself.

After setting it up, I gave it a good inspection and a good sit, and my initial impressions were really good. The leather was nice, especially for the price. It didn't (and still doesnt) blow me away in terms of the leather, but I don't think it has to, i'm very happy with where it is at, and i'm not sure if the real thing uses anything much nicer. Time will tell how this holds up, but my expectations are high so far. The wood paneling is really nicely done, and looks great. The color on it great, with my only gripe (and i'm not totally sure how the original is) is that the edges of the wood aren't finished with the same color as the backing, if that makes sense. You can see in the photos. The Pallisander colored wood has a natural edge finish to it.

The tufting is really deep and tight, which is great. On the ottoman, this creates almost two perfect grooves for your calves to rest in as you sit, with is very comfy.

My first hour or two in the chair was alright at best, and my low back started to hurt me just a touch. I was surprised by how it felt, and was expecting something much comfier. That said, after sitting on it for a few weeks now, I think I have softened up the cushions, which were pretty stiff when I got them, and now I find this chair supremely comfortable, even for many hours as I sit and relax, read, or get some work done.

Now, for people who haven't sat in an Eames before, this is a great chair for lounging where you are looking forward, not for full on reclining and leaning back, as there is zero head support. You have to slink way down into the chair to rest your head back in it (now this could be because i'm 6'3), and then it doesn't feel good on your back. I'm sitting it in right now as i'm typing, and for being on my laptop its amazing.

I'm not sure what else to say, really. If you have some specific questions, let me know. I think its all a bit of a moot point at this stage, since they are no longer shipping outside Canada, I bought the 2nd last one of these chairs in the black leather configuration, so people likely won't get one, but for those of you who are considering, or can order, I hope this helps.

Overall I'm very, very, happy with the chair, all things considered. I hope it holds up over time, which I think it will. For $1500 cdn it would be hard to find something nicer. Above I added some (shitty) photos of the chair to take a look at.
 

NonChalant321

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As an update, I shelled out for a HM one after having a repro for 3-4 years.

There was 1 floor model for sale at DWR for 30% off so I snagged it. Yes, it's been sat on probably a lot considering it was sitting outside the store in the general mall area but otherwise looks and feels brand new. I figure at $3500, it's going to be hard to find a legit Eames chair+ottoman that can beat that price in store. The store said they almost never have Eames 670+671 floor models for sale and if this one didn't sell in another week, it would go to one of their outlet locations for a higher price.

Looking to sell the repro now but in the meantime, I can compare closely side by side.

Here are my observations:

1) As mentioned before, the repro cushions are much harder. The HM lets you sink in a bit and just envelopes you - there's more give. After sitting on that, the MHD repro cushions feel like your butt is sliding around on a board.

2) HM one has much better lower back support - again an attribute to the cushions. It's less flat and puffs out enough so that your lower back is supported. The MHD repro often leaves your lower back completely unsupported unless you sit way back which leaves your head higher up with no neck support (see next point).

3) The MHD repro had zero neck support unless you slid your body down, leaving you in a terrible position for lower back. In fact, I could lean my head back and still not touch the top of the cushion - which meant that sitting in the lounge chair was not very restful at all after a couple minutes. The chair is angled so your head and spine is at an angle as opposed to when you're sitting or standing straight...this means that your neck muscles are tense and strained holding your neck up while sitting in this chair. I don't know if this is because your body doesn't sink down that bit with the hard seat cushion, or if the proportion is just off. The HM one is just the right height where my neck and head makes contact with the top of the cushion, giving support. That said, I'm 5'8" and I can see that a taller person might find a lack of neck support with even the HM lounger unless they find a tall version.

4) Leather quality - the MHD leather isn't bad, but there's a stark difference between that and the Spinneybeck Vincenza leather of the HM one.

When all is said and done, the take away message I would give anyone is if your priority is comfort, don't buy a repro. If you absolutely must have the Eames lounge chair design but don't want to shell out for a HM/Vitra one, don't pay more than $300 for it - certainly not $1000+. Knowing what I know now, I would have gotten just a Stressless repro which is much more comfortable for $300, and saved money to get the HM Eames later on.

I can't speak for other repros, but this is based on my experience with the one from MHD aka Barcelona Designs.
 
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NycLondon

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No one in this thread has bought an HM Eames. I think that much is clear.
Sitting in one now as I write this! Probably 1970s production.
Looking at old Herman Miller production, it is clear that the plywood used now is simply awful. It looks almost like plastic compared to early production.
Plywood from the 1950s in good condition can look absolutely fabulous now.
With the Alumin(i)um Group Herman Miller even added an extra foot (4 up to 5). Though I have to say it does make the chairs more stable.
Personally, I have never enjoyed the look or the feel of the lounge chair discussed here.
I like High Modernism design very much. I have several Corbusier pieces from Cassina. One "knock off" Grand Comfort 2 seater from Design Within Reach before they started to sell Cassina. It was remarkably cheap (ca. $500), and has held up quite well for 20 years.
My advice is to buy authentic if you can. If you buy old production look carefully, and auctions can be great value.
The Eames arm chair is very common, and can be found quite cheaply - ragoarts.com in Lambertville is a good source for such.
Happy hunting to all.
 

gomestar

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authentic Eames chair incoming. It's not new, it was used for staging at the wife's architecture company (meaning it was used in pictures). One of the arms has a little damage, and I don't have room for it. But it was free, so shrug.
 

TMMKC

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I was given a reproduction by Urban Furnishings as a gift. It seems to be really well made, and it's attractive. I don't find it very comfortable, though (too stiff, and the back isn't high enough to rest my head). As such, I rarely sit in it. The ottoman comes in handy for stacking paperwork, though. LOL ;-)
 

DKSpurs

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Just read through (most of) this thread - trying to revive it!! Those who have repros, how are they holding up? Those who either snaked an HM or went straight to the source, I'm jealous.:drool:
 

woolalaoc

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just received my mhd eames replica in aniline leather and i'm pretty happy with it. i wasn't going to spend $6-7k on a real hm and i'm happy to make the compromise. i spent a little over $1400 delivered for the chair. it does appear to be made in china, but the leather quality is pretty decent (well made, smells nice, no gassy-ness). also, the materials and construction seem to be pretty good, too. as previous people have stated, the arms are next to impossible to get on right, but i was somehow able to do it after some tinkering (took me over an hour). the head rest is a little low, but i'm ok with it - even took an hour nap on it this past weekend. i've attached a pic w/ my dog.
 

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vestaviascott

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As an update, I shelled out for a HM one after having a repro for 3-4 years.

1) As mentioned before, the repro cushions are much harder. The HM lets you sink in a bit and just envelopes you - there's more give. After sitting on that, the MHD repro cushions feel like your butt is sliding around on a board.
I had the exact same experience. I took apart the cushions on the reproduction and comparing them to videos that show the Herman Miller chair being made, in particular, the cushions going into the chairs, its clear to see the difference. The repros are using closed cell injection molded "memory" foam. While the authentic chairs are using white, open cell foam for their cushion material.

I appreciate all of your feedback. I'm trying to see if I can source the same foam that the Herman Miller chair uses. The screengrabs I have are not high resolution to try to tell more about the density of the foam.

Is it possible that you can take a high res picture of the foam, both layers on from your Ottoman or main seat?

Here are some screen caps I took from the "Making of an Eames Chair", from BrandMade TV on Youtube and from the Eames Demetrios video. This is at the Lansing Michigan factory of "Genesis Seating" which HM contracts to make the chairs.

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vestaviascott

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From the pics, it appears that there are two layers of foam glued together to make the seat cushions. The bottom layer is pinkish in color and the top layer is white (but appears off white in these grainy video captures). I suppose the bottom layer is a higher density than the top layer. I do not see any Dacron being used.

The "secret sauce" is what is the density of the two layers of foam? It should be knowable and once determined, you'd basically just have to have a local upholstery fabricator cut the foam to match your existing repros memory foam and you'd have a damn near exact copy of the chair, including the that elusive "sinking into the chair" feeling that makes it so damn comfortable.
 

vestaviascott

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As a test to see if I could improve the comfort of my Eames lounge replica, to more closely match the comfy/sink-into-it feel of the Herman Miller cushions, I've done an experiment and I think I'm on to something pretty amazing. I need to refine my prototype a bit to include 2 layers of foam, one firm and one soft, but as a rough prototype, out of a soft 6 inch thick couch cushion, I crafted a foam insert for my chair and I'm pretty psyched with the feeling of the cushion. Its night and day from the original and close if not damn near exact to the Herman Miller chair.

First, if anyone has priced foam lately, you know its incredibly expensive, especially if you have no idea what the end result will be once you are done carving it to fit into the contoured shell of an Eames lounge chair.

To work around this, I went to several local thrift stores looking for couches from which I could source cushion foam blanks. I found 2 couches that had the soft feel I was looking for. Since I was only interested in the cushions, I was able to negotiate down the price of a $50 thrift store couch, down to $30 for just the cushions. I now had 3 thick 6 inch foam cushion blanks to work from.

Using the existing foam from my replica chair as a pattern to measure from, I found that I need a 26 inch square cushion of about 5 to 6 inches in height. Luckily, these couch cushions were exactly the right height so all I would need to do would be to cut the sides down to a 26 inch square.

Here's what that looks like:

blank-square.jpg


Above, I've marked with a sharpie, cut lines that are 2 inches on the side edge and 4 inches on the top edge. After this cut is made, the same cut is made again, this time marking a line in the middle of the existing cut and then dropping down 2 inches on the uncut side:

blank-square-cut1.jpg


Once both sides have been cut, turn the foam over and make the cuts on the undersides of the adjacent sides from the top cuts. The end result is an approximation of the molded foam shape:

contour2.jpg


contour3.jpg


Once the foam is zipped into the shell, and the cushion fitted into the base of the chair, its time for some testing:

chair-with-cushion.jpg


As you can see, the buttons have to be removed while doing all of this. Once I've settled on a final prototype I'll use a tufting needle and re-attach the buttons to finalize the job. Before I placed my prototype foam cushion into the shells, I covered it with a layer of 1 inch Dacron to smooth over the hard edges of my foam cuts so they don't show as ridges through the leather.

Even at this stage, I can tell a huge difference in the comfort and feel of the chair when compared to the latex injection molded cushion inserts that it came with. I now actually SINK into the chair for the first time! I've got that sitting IN feeling vs sitting ON the old super firm latex foam.

My next test will be to experiment with a 2 layer foam prototype with the base layer being 4 inches and the top layer being a 2 inch very soft foam. This should approximate what's being used on the Herman Miller chair and also will serve as a smooth top layer, negating the need for Dacron to smooth over the cuts of the base layer of foam.
 

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vestaviascott

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I forgot to mention, I used an electric kitchen carving knife to make the cuts along the cut lines I marked on the foam. It works incredibly well. I had experimented with using a hacksaw (even heating up the blade to help it cleanly cut through the foam), but the results were not good at all. The electric carving knife works wonders through the foam.

tools.jpg
 

vestaviascott

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I don't have a dog in the replica vs genuine race, but I just want to salute your resourcefulness.
Thanks. It really is not too difficult to do this. And once done, you have a completely different chair in terms of comfort.

I don't really look at it as sort of a "vs" one or the other. Obviously, I'd prefer to have the genuine chair, not only for comfort but for resale value. But I just couldn't justify $4K for a lounge chair.

In comparison, the chair I have cost me $1100 shipped from California to Birmingham, Al. It is identical to the genuine Herman Miller version in every way right down to the last detail, but for the cushion material. I thought it was fairly comfortable until I visited a Herman Miller distributer and sat in the genuine chair. The incline and feel of the leather were virtually indistinguishable from my chair. But there was a night and day difference in terms of the softness of the seat cushion. So I knew I was missing out in that regard and just sought to find the solution. Its a really simple retrofit to make a $1K chair feel like a $4K chair.
 

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