Thinking about purchasing an Eames chair for yourself? Hold that thought. You could easily fall prey to one of the million scams and poor-quality reproductions out there. Do you know how to tell a bad replica from another that’s going to last for decades?

If you don’t, read along. Built in 1956 by Charles and Ray Eames, the Eames Lounge chair with ottoman was intended to be mass-produced and affordable, bringing the best of modernist design in Europe to America.

The ELC quickly became a mid-century modernist icon, bringing comfort in a gorgeous, sleek package that represented the spirit of the postwar middle classes that were beginning to thrive in the latter half of the 20th century.

Its curved plywood design was seen as groundbreaking and even a little out of touch for some audiences. A large marketing campaign by the original manufacturer helped curb the initial shyness of the general public towards the chair, and after many successful decades of sales it became a distinctively American product.

The ELC’s cultural influence and status can also be seen in its many fictional representations. The lounge chair of choice for the famous Dr. House (played by Hugh Laurie) is an Eames replica. The Iron Man films have depicted the chair aside a Castiglioni Arco Lamp in Tony Stark’s mansion.

The 2018 Netflix series Narcos: México even put one on the office of the main mob leader Miguel Ángel Félix Gallardo (played by Diego Luna), though we don’t know for sure if the capo actually owned one.

Robert Downey Jr. sitting on an ELC reproduction, along with Kevin Feige. (C) Marvel Studios.

Finding the right Eames Lounge chair replica

There are some things that you need to keep in mind before buying an Eames lounge chair and ottoman combo. Firstly, it is one of the most copied items in the history of architecture and home design. Secondly, everyone loves it, so there’s a big market for it with a huge demand, if that wasn’t clear from the start of this article.

These two points of view force potential buyers to do some research before buying, as constant reproduction has caused the best replicas to blend in the crowd. How do you spot a quality Eames Lounge chair replica? How do you make sure it stays true to the original design?

The best reproductions will always have these features

First and foremost, look for a five-leg base in the chair and a four-leg base in the ottoman. This is not a crucial part of the chair’s ergonomics but it follows the original design by Charles and Ray Eames. Also, see that the cushions are interchangeable.

The designers intended for people to switch between cushions to avoid losing comfort and to make them last longer. Also, ask about the shock mounts. Are they made of rubber? Most shock mounts are, and that leads to breakage and malfunctioning after a few years.

Great replicas will have silicon shock mounts, which last forever. Also, does the chair recline? It has to recline all the way! The natural angle of a great replica is about 15 degrees.

If your seat cushion became too flat from long sitting periods, you could just change it by the one on the ottoman, and vice versa. Each cushion should have two big buttons as well.

How much should I spend on an Eames chair?

The price is also a very important aspect of the purchase, after all, an original Eames lounge chair and ottoman combo costs about $6,000. This means that there are a lot of knockoffs that scammers that try to sell for about $4,000. The truth is a great replica will never surpass $1,500.

You could go as far as $2,000 for luxury materials, but if the chair is just above the $1,000 mark, you’re good to go. For this very reason try to stay away from replicas that cost less than $500, because they tend to be very poorly made, and most of them (when compared) don’t look at all like the real thing.

The $600-$1,000 range is fine, and the closer it is to $1,000, the better it will be (quality-wise).