The best way to know if the lounge chair you are looking at is a real Eames Lounge Chair or a reproduction is to study the real thing.  Just like with money, you look at the real thing long enough and you will know if something is off.  Here are a few things to look for when identifying an Eames Lounge Chair.


The Label

Black Label - between 1970-90 a black rectangular label with round corners that says "herman miller" (in lower case) was used.

Silver Label - after 1990 the black label was switched to a silver one with black text.  The text says "Herman Miller" (with caps).

Round Metal Disc - the Herman Miller logo in the center and "Designed by Charles Eames - Herman Miller Zeeland, Mich". The label color was white and gold. 

Paper Label - most real authentic Eames Lounge Chairs are signed with a paper label, though it is easy for these labels to fall off. The paper label will list all of the patents.

Bottom Shell - look under the chair where the base connects to the shell, you should see a label here.

Under the Cushion - if you can not fine a label on the bottom, slide off the cushions, there may be additional ones there.

 

The Base

5 Legs - an authentic Eames Lounge Chair will have five legs on the base and four legs on the base of the ottoman.

Slight Angle - the legs have a slight angle.  They are not flat and do not angle up steeply.

Swivels- the chair should be able to swivel a full 360°.

Does Not Recline - knock-offs will often have a mechanism for reclining but authentic Eames Lounge Chairs do not recline.

Die Cast Aluminum - The legs are made from a solid piece of aluminum.  The end of each leg are round, not square.

Finishes - there are three official finishes for the legs Polished, Chromed and Black with Polished trim on top.

Adjustable Glides - the feet are made of plastic/rubber and will have the markings "Domes of Silence" on them.

15° Angle - the chair is set a permanent 15° angle.


The Shells

No Exposed Screws - all the screws are on the inside of the chair, hidden from view, except at the armrests. If you see a screw on the outside of the wood shells, the chair is a knock-off or poorly repaired.

3 Shells - the Eames Lounge Chair is made up of three shells, the seat (bottom), the back (middle) and the head rest (top). They should look like they are all floating.

2 Posts - two aluminum posts connect the middle and top shells together.  Each post has 3 screws, one for the top and two for the middle.

Rubber Cushions - the posts will have thick rubber cushions between them and the wood, allowing for some flex.

Armrests - the bottom and middle shells are held together at the armrests. 

Armrest (screws) - this is the only place you will see an exposed screw. Screws should be black.  Vintage chairs have 3 screws and new ones have 2.


The Wood

Molded Plywood - vintage Eames Lounge Chairs are made of only 5 layers of plywood. Modern versions have 7 layers of plywood.

Matching Veneer - the wood grain on the veneer of each shell should match and run the same direction because they are cut from a single log.

Veneer Types - Cherry, Walnut, Santos Palisander and Rosewood.

Brazilian Rosewood - was originally a veneer option but was discontinued due to sustainability concerns.

Smooth Edges - all the edges should be smooth and rounded.


The Cushions

Bottom Cushion - is the same size and interchangeable with the cushion on the ottoman.

6 Inches of Padding - vintage chairs will have 6" of down feathers and newer chairs will have 6" of urethane foam.

Always Leather - on the rare occasion you will see an Eames Lounge Chair covered in fabric. Most of the time it will be soft leather.

2 Leather Buttons - are in the middle of each cushion. 

Zippers - the leather attaches to hard plastic shells with a zipper.

Clips - connect the cushions to the chair.  There should also be one snap at each end to keep the cushion from sliding off the clips.

Large Armrests - curve in towards the seat and are not flat. The edges will have tubed welting or piping rather than a solid piece of leather.


The Dimensions

32" Tall - the top of the headrest should sit at 32 inches above the floor.

15" of the Ground  - the front edge of the seat should be at about 15 inches.

32.75" Square - the chair is as wide as it is long.  It is 32.75 inches from each outer edge of the armrests. It is the same distance from the front edge of the seat to the back of the hedrest.


Signs of a Fake

Oversized - most knock-offs and reproductions get the proportions all wrong and make the chairs to large.

Recliner - if your chair reclines, it is not an Eames Lounge Chair.

Flat Feet - often the base will be made with square, flat legs and feet/glides that do not adjust.

Tip Toes - other times the legs will be at such a steep incline that the chair looks like it is standing on its tip toes.

42-45" Tall - replicas often bring the headrest up another 10-13 inches higher than an Eames Lounge Chair.

Visible Screws - it is a lot of work to hide the screws and keep the chair structurally sound.  Replicas and knock-offs do not take the extra time to hide the screws.

Inexpensive - New replicas, like "Plycraft", start around $1,200 and used replicas will sell for a few hundred dollars.


What tips do you have for spotting a real Eames Lounge Chair?

3 Comments