The original design of the Eames chair is like an alpha predator in the world of home design: it hasn’t changed in more than 50 years, only the quality of the material has improved.
It was the only chair to be granted a national, televised introduction to the world (on Arlene Francis’ “Home Show” in 1956).
Here’s an updated guide on how to make an informed decision when buying one, what to look for, and the different models that we can offer, along with some other important details.
1. Palisander (rosewood) or Walnut?
Walnut, palisander, santos palisander, veneer, so many names! So little time! What are we talking about today? We’re talking about wood, the base, the hard part of the Eames lounge chair replica (and what makes it an actual chair that you can sit on).
To make sure the design of an Eames is correct, there are a handful of woods that actually get to compose the finish. This is because the wood must not only be beautiful, it must be sturdy (yet flexible), and thick (yet not very rough).
Most great replicas will offer you two options: walnut and palisander (also known as rosewood). Here we will examine both of them:
The walnut tree ( juglans major) is a very big plant that bears some tasty nuts (or wal-nuts, maybe?). Its wood has been a staple of furniture manufacturing for centuries, especially in Europe.
Some people associate it with wisdom and knowledge, and this ancient belief permeates the timber itself, and the plywood that ultimately ends up on the Eames lounge chair replica.
The pattern that it creates is very complex and rich, and the finished product is of a very light color that does perfectly well in office settings and homes with darker walls, to keep the contrast expected in a mid-century setting.
It doesn’t have any noticeable smell, but what it lacks in tone it makes up for in versatility. White spaces welcome walnut objects very well, along with gray areas.
It also plays well with green colors on curtains, pillows or couches (for example). The walnut veneer used in MHD’s lounge chair is not too dark, so it fits these categories perfectly.
Palisander is a bit more varied in tone, stemming from two main sources: Brazilian rosewood ( dalbergia nigra), and East Indian rosewood (dalbergia latifolia). It is rich in smell and texture, and it can be a bit more dramatic than walnut, so to speak.
Its reddish color is noticeably more “brown” than walnut and will probably play better in spaces that feature a lot of wood as well, which makes it ideal for home settings.
Don’t pay too much attention to tone if you’re combining different woods while doing some interior design the important thing is to make everything look cozy, yet solid.
Palisander is more associated with feelings of luxury, wealth, pride, and beauty. It has been one of the staple woods for great guitars, and other musical instruments, since the beginnings of the 20 th century.
This particular name is a French loanword that actually originated from Dutch and it references the rich tonality found on the fresh timber of the tree.
2. Aniline leather? Full-grain? Leatherette?
The original Eames lounge chair is a leather object. There is a possibility that you might find variants that sport wool or synthetic cushions, but this would be incredibly difficult, and (for some people) completely outrageous.
That being said, when you purchase an Eames chair, you will find yourself swarmed by terms like “leatherette” or “aniline” leather. What do they mean? What kind of leather should you get for the upholstery of an Eames chair? Let’s find out.
Leatherette is half the price of real leather, and good for your wallet. The first thing you should know if you see this word, is that you’re not getting real leather.
Leatherette is a synthetic variant designed for a variety of uses. However, this doesn’t make it automatically bad or undesirable. It doesn’t “breathe” as well as others, so if you live in a warmer part of the world, you’ll be in trouble in the future.
Leatherette is also less durable than real leather, but it’s better for cleaning. Leatherette is also not biodegradable (for all the environmentally conscious people out there).
An Eames chair with authentic leather will cost more but it will: 1. Absorb stains and spills better than leatherette and 2. Fade with age (leatherette will crack with age).
People who know about home design usually prefer fading to cracking, as the former can be an indicator of taste and authenticity, just like a fine wine.
Aniline leather is real leather treated with special dyes. It preserves the skin’s original marks, shapes, and imperfections (but don’t run away from it just yet!). Quality aniline leather can be quite exquisite and stylish, depending on what you’re looking for personally.
Remember what we said before about “a fine wine”? Aniline leather will retain the mark if you scratch it with your fingernail but, over time, those markings will blend together with usage and add to the all-natural look and feel that distinguishes a regular leather recliner from a lifetime work of art.
If you’re still not convinced, there are semi-aniline leathers that still feel natural, but are flatter and more scratch-resistant.
Italian leather is the top quality leather in the entire Western world. Italians are famous for their natural treatments of animal fabric, just like Swiss people are famous for their watches and their chocolate.
There are two types: full grain, and top grain. Both of them are top-notch, but the latter is better suited for everyday use.
3. Models and pricing
Manhattan Home Design has 8 specific variations of the Eames Lounge chair replica with ottoman. These variations forn 3 distinct groups.
You can see all of them in our dedicated Lounge Chairs page, but here we will dissect each group briefly:
- The Classic Lounge Chair with Ottoman
This group contains six Eames Lounge Chair replicas that follow the Classic Vitra chair look from 1956, that is, a plywood base and leather upholstery, with a very specific set of measurements.
You can get all of these chairs ready and assembled for you, or 90% assembled so you can finish putting them together when the parts arrive at your home.
The six chairs all share the same specifications and veneer choices, except for the Antique Brown version, which only comes in palisander. They are, in order: The Classic Black ($994), White with Chrome Base ($1,441), Classic Brown ($1,441), Antique Brown ($1,598), Classic Cream (or Sonoma) ($1,689), and White with Black base ($1,441) chairs.
- The Eames Lounge chair and Ottoman in Wool ($1,598)
This one retains all of the original specifications and measurements of the Classic version but has a very soft wool exterior and only comes in walnut veneer.
- The Eames Lounge Chair and Ottoman (Tall Version) ($1,690)
This one is for people over 6’2” in height who might find it difficult to sit comfortably in a regular Eames Lounge chair replica. The added height and width of the central part of the chair allows them to recline all the way without losing space on the headrest.
You can purchase it in every leather and veneer configuration available in the other chairs (except for wool), but you must purchase an aniline leather version if you choose the Antique Brown finish.
4. Specifications, measurements, and care
To find out more about about these topics, please visit our central Eames Lounge chair page, or click on any of the following articles from this blog:
This guide was updated in July, 2019. If you feel we’re missing something about the ELC, or if you have any further questions, please don’t hesitate to send an email, give us a call, or leave a message on social media. Thank you for reading!