DSR Fiberglass Chair | Images courtesy of Vitra ©

LDF18 • In Conversation with Vitra’s Eckart Maise

Originally designed by Charles and Ray Eames in 1950, the uniquely textured DSR and DSW Fiberglass Chairs have been expertly updated and re-released by Vitra for 2018 to be exclusively launched at The Conran Shop.

Presented in specially treated fibreglass in six original Eames colours; elephant hide grey; parchment; sea foam green; raw umber; red orange and navy blue, the chairs showcase the irregular surface textures and lively visible fibres unique to fibreglass. An instantly recognisable design, the Eames Fibreglass Chairs are exclusively available to purchase in-store from our London and Paris locations.

Originally designed for MoMA’s 1948 ‘International Competition for Low-Cost Furniture Design’, the Eameses embarked on a hunt for an alternative material to the expensive and complex metal they had used to create the prototype. Settling on fibreglass, the Eameses were impressed by its mouldability, rigidity and aptness for industrial manufacturing.

Paired with the signature Eiffel Tower bases and launched on the market in 1950, the Fiberglass Chairs were an overnight success and have since become one of the 20th century’s most loved furniture designs.

Eager to find out a little more about the Fiberglass Chairs, The Conran Shop reached out to Vitra’s Eckart Maise to enlighten us about the exclusive release.

 

 

Can you tell us a little bit about Vitra’s connection with Charles & Ray Eames?

It all started in 1953 when the entrepreneur Willi Fehlbaum travelled to New York, where he discovered the Fiberglass Chairs by Charles and Ray Eames in a showroom window. Captivated by the innovative design, he decided to become a furniture manufacturer. A few years later, in 1956, Vitra obtained the rights to manufacture and market the products of Charles and Ray Eames for Europe and the Middle East, by contract with the American furniture producer Herman Miller.

The relationship between the Fehlbaum family and Charles and Ray Eames soon developed into a warm professional partnership. The contact between both parties started with travels across the Atlantic Ocean, accompanied a steady exchange of correspondence that continues to this day in the third generation of both families.

 

Charles & Ray Eames with original Fiberglass Chairs | Images courtesy of Eames Office, LLC ©
Charles & Ray Eames seated on original Fiberglass Chairs | Images courtesy of Eames Office LLC ©

 

We’re delighted to welcome the Fiberglass Chairs back into stores – how did their re-release come about?

In collaboration with Vitra, Charles and Ray Eames continued to optimise their designs following market release. The designers constantly improved details or redesigned whole parts of their products: all to provide the best performance and quality, as well as using contemporary technical advances.

These adjustments continue today in the close collaboration between Vitra and the Eames Office. A recent output of this exchange materialised in the 2018 relaunch of the Eames Fiberglass Chairs which were developed by Vitra under the supervision of Eames Demetrios, grandson of Charles and Ray Eames and director of the Eames Office.

 

The exclusive Eames Fiberglass Chair
The exclusive Eames Fiberglass Chair

 

Is there one piece or designer that you admire most?

There is not one piece or designer Vitra likes the most, but we love the little anecdote about Charles Eames and his search for a black hue with feeling for the Fiberglass Chairs; for Charles and Ray Eames, black was a colour with many nuances. The couple worked with a vivid scale of colours for their furniture designs, and each palette was thoroughly researched and carefully selected. They knew exactly what they wanted.

The Eameses wanted to select colours that would minimise the effect of discolouration due to the process itself. They liked colours with a strong identity but also wanted colours that would be neutral, that would work in different interior decorating situations. Some of the first colours for their Fiberglass Chairs were parchment, raw umber, red orange, sea foam green, navy blue and elephant hide grey. For the last colour Charles famously said: ‘What I really want is a black with feeling’. The warm black, which they named elephant hide grey, is an example of their colour work.

 

Early designs for the Fiberglass Chairs and nuns enjoying the Fiberglass Chairs | Images courtesy of Eames Office, LLC ©
Early designs for the Fiberglass Chairs, and proof of its versatility | Images courtesy of Eames Office LLC ©

 

The Eames Fiberglass Chairs are available to purchase in-store in our London and Paris locations. Please call 0344 848 4000 or email customerservices@conranshop.com to make an enquiry or to place an order.

Browse the full collection here.