Vitra have re-introduced the original fibreglass version of Charles and Ray Eames' famous chair from 1950. The fibreglass shells are characterised by their lively visual appeal, which owes its charm to an irregular surface, and appears almost like a natural material thanks to its clearly visible fibres. Originally designed for the 'International Competition for Low-Cost Furniture Design', organised by the New York Museum of Modern Art. The Eameses recognised and fully exploited the advantages of fibreglass: mouldability, rigidity and suitability for industrial manufacturing methods.
In 1948, Charles and Ray Eames participated in the 'International Competition for Low-Cost Furniture Design', organised by the New York Museum of Modern Art, entering a chair with a seat shell moulded to fit the contours of the human body along with a concept for a variety of bases. Their design won second prize. However, the metal seat shell proved too complex and expensive to achieve successful mass production.
The couple's search for alternative materials eventually led them to glass-fibre reinforced polyester resin, which until then had been primarily restricted to military applications such as aircraft radomes and cockpit covers. The Eameses recognised and fully exploited the advantages of fibreglass: mouldability, rigidity and suitability for industrial manufacturing methods. With this material, which was previously unknown in the furniture industry, they successfully developed the moulded seat shells for mass production: the Fiberglass Chair was born. Its organically shaped, one-piece shell proved to be a much-admired innovation at a time when chairs typically consisted of a seat and backrest. Fibreglass offered the added advantage of pleasant tactile qualities and a perfectly moulded form for optimal comfort.
Charles and Ray developed a striking series of individual bases that could be freely combined with these shells – such as the Eiffel Tower version made of welded steel wire or the wooden base reinforced with metal struts. This combination of revolutionary seat shells and innovative bases gave the chair family the iconic traits that are still instantly recognisable today.