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Vintage Eames Vitra La Chaise Chair, Original, Fiberglass First Generation, 1992



Charles and Ray designed the iconic "La Chaise" lounge chair for The Museum of Modern Art’s 1948 “International Competition for Low-Cost Furniture Design.” Its name references both its function as well as Gaston Lachaise’s 1927 sculpture "Floating Figure" (see image 5 courtesy of National Gallery of Australia, Canberra), which was displayed in a retrospective of the artist in 1935 and acquired by MoMA in 1937 and whose shape the Eameses thought would fit the chair perfectly. Ironically the Eames' had chosen a sculpture that began its life (circa 1921) as the representation of "a figure of a woman on a couch," which was damaged during an exhibition and then repaired/reworked by the artist in the years following to remove the couch completely. Lachaise developed and enlarged the figure, completing it in 1927. Floating figure was first exhibited in plaster at the Brummer Gallery, New York, in 1928, and was cast in bronze at the end of 1934 for the aforementioned MoMA retrospective in 1935. Comprised of two bonded fiberglass shells, a chromed base, and natural oak feet, the chair exhibits a captivating elegance and allows for a wide range of sitting and reclining positions. Although widely considered to be icon of American Modernism, the Eames' design might be more aptly described as an early example of Post-Modernism design, as it is rife with irony, a signature of Postmodernist design and theory. Lachaise labored to free the figure from its furniture-support and the Eames' used that same "floating figure" as inspiration to design a piece of furniture meant to support the human body. (See images 15, 16 & 17 of the Eames' hard at work on the design). They essentially worked to turn the "freed figure" into the sort of support from which it had been freed by Modernism. Lachaise was chopped up into "La Chaise." The design was meant to win the "International Competition for Low-Cost Furniture Design" but was so difficult and expensive to produce that, despite extensive efforts to put into production throughout the 1950s, see the last image), it only went into production in 1991 and at a retail price of around 13,000 USD (equivalent to 1278 USD in 1948 dollars). For context, the median American family income in 1948 was 3200 USD. Vitra began producing La Chaise in extremely limited numbers in 1991 based on the European license and for the European market. This particular piece was acquired by its original owner in 1992 directly from Vitra, retains its original paper label, and is from the first generation of this production. Vitra began selling La Chaise in the American market in 1996. This piece was imported from Europe in 1992. In 2001, Vitra discontinued production of the original design and began making the piece out of polyurethane, a lighter, cheaper, and more durable material. The vast majority of authentic (and knock-off) La Chaise's currently on the market, new and vintage, are of the polyurethane variety, which provides a very different, less sculptural and substantial aesthetic. Measures: Height 34.5" Width 59" Depth 34" Seat height 19.25".


  • Creator
    Charles and Ray Eames (Designer),Vitra (Maker)
  • Dimensions
    Height: 35 in. (88.9 cm)Width: 59 in. (149.86 cm)Depth: 34 in. (86.36 cm)Seat Height: 19 in. (48.26 cm)
  • Style
    Mid-Century Modern (Of the Period)
  • Materials and Techniques
  • Place of Origin
  • Period
  • Date of Manufacture
  • Condition
    Wear consistent with age and use. Good vintage condition. Minor age appropriate wear. A few imperfections on back , see photos. Presents quite well. Labelled and dated.
  • Seller Location
    Brooklyn, NY
  • Reference Number
    1stDibs: LU4190323893512

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  • Shipping
    Rates vary by destination and complexity. We recommend this shipping type based on item size, type and fragility.
    Ships From: Brooklyn, NY
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    A return for this item may be initiated within 1 day of delivery.

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About the Designer

Charles and Ray Eames

Charles Eames and Ray Eames were the embodiment of the inventiveness, energy and optimism at the heart of mid-century modern American design, and have been recognized as the most influential designers of the 20th century. As furniture designers, filmmakers, artists, textile and graphic designers and even toy and puzzle makers, the Eameses were a visionary and effective force for the notion that design should be an agent of positive change. They are the happy, ever-curious, ever-adventurous faces of modernism. Charles studied architecture and industrial design. Ray (née Beatrice Alexandra Kaiser) was an artist, who studied under the abstract expressionist Hans Hofmann. They met in 1940 at the Cranbrook Academy of Art in suburban Detroit (where Charles also met his frequent collaborator Eero Saarinen and the artist and designer Harry Bertoia) and married the next year. His technical skills and her artistic flair were wonderfully complementary. They moved to Los Angeles in 1941, where Charles worked on set design for MGM. In the evenings at their apartment, they experimented with molded plywood using a handmade heat-and-pressurization device they called the “Kazam!” machine. The next year, they won a contract from the U.S. Navy for lightweight plywood leg splints for wounded servicemen — they are coveted collectibles today; more so those that Ray used to make sculptures. The Navy contract allowed Charles to open a professional studio, and the attention-grabbing plywood furniture the firm produced prompted George Nelson, the director of design of the furniture-maker Herman Miller Inc., to enlist Charles and (by association, if not by contract) Ray in 1946. Some of the first Eames items to emerge from Herman Miller are now classics: the LCW, or Lounge Chair Wood, and the DCM, or Dining Chair Metal, supported by tubular steel. The Eameses eagerly embraced new technology and materials, and one of their peculiar talents was to imbue their supremely modern design with references to folk traditions. Their Wire chair group of the 1950s, for example, was inspired by basket weaving techniques. The populist notion of “good design for all” drove their molded fiberglass chair series that same decade, and also produced the organic-form, ever-delightful La Chaise. In 1956 the Eames lounge chair and ottoman appeared — the supremely comfortable plywood-base-and-leather-upholstery creation that will likely live in homes as long as there are people with good taste and sense. Charles Eames once said, “The role of the designer is that of a very good, thoughtful host anticipating the needs of his guests.” For very good collectors and thoughtful interior designers, a piece of design by the Eameses, the closer produced to original conception the better, is almost de rigueur — for its beauty and comfort, and not least as a tribute to the creative legacy and enduring influence of Charles and Ray Eames.
About the Seller
5 / 5
Located in Brooklyn, NY
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