written by:
February 19, 2015
Yeah, yeah: We know. Dwell homeowners love an Eames shell chair, and our readers love to point out just how much. Still: It's an enduring modern classic for a reason. See how it works in every interior, and glean some historical facts along the way.
Mix and match dining chairs around wood table with pendant lamp in Dwell magazine

The Eames shell chair mixes with EamesPKW-2 chairs, also by Herman Miller, along with Stokke's Tripp Trapp chair in this midcentury Portland home owned by a vintage furniture collector.

Photo by 
Originally appeared in Midcentury Renovation in Portland Capitalizes on Nature with Seven Doors to the Outside
1 / 9
Modern Japanese hilltop home living and dining area with custom kitchen island and stove vent along with Eames chairs

In the open living and dining room of a hillside family home in Japan, Eames shell chairs surround a custom walnut table by Kagura.

Photo by 
Originally appeared in This Hillside Home Exchanges Walls for Bookshelves
2 / 9
renovated loft with Eames shell chairs and tulip table

In a renovated Tribeca loft, Eames shell chairs surround a Saarinen Tulip table from Knoll. When architect Matthew Miller of New York firm StudioLAB gutted the space, some of the original details—like the windows—remain.

Originally appeared in A Renovated Tribeca Loft with a Modern Aesthetic
3 / 9
Original Eames shell chair in media room

In Matt Jacobsen's Southern California ode to minimal living, the home office is decked out with an original Eames shell chair manufactured in Gardena, California, before production moved to Michigan.

Photo by 
Originally appeared in Basic Instincts
4 / 9
Silver sliding door closet and cherry red Eames rocker

A cherry-red Eames rocker is one of the nice touches in this Sicilian home. And it's just these splashes of color that give the place so much of its charm.

Photo by 
Originally appeared in Less Is Amore
5 / 9
Montreal dining room with Eames shell chairs and Italian bar cart

The dining room adjacent to this clever Ikea kitchen hack includes some not so bargain-bin pieces, including Eames shell chairs from Herman Miller and a vintage Italian bar cart.

Photo by 
Originally appeared in DIY Kitchen Renovation: IKEA Cabinet Hack
6 / 9
tel aviv hai life dining room

The fourth-floor kitchen of this family home in Tel Aviv features Heracleum II pendants by Bertjan Pot for Moooi that hang over both the kitchen island and the dining table. Eames shell chairs surround the table.

Photo by 
Originally appeared in Modern High-Rise Town House in Tel Aviv
7 / 9
For the snowy season, a Rais stove provides extra warmth.

An earthy Mexico abode gets a dose of midcentury industrial design with two red Eames shell chairs.

Photo by 
Originally appeared in Abiquiu Debut
8 / 9
Campbell’s Little Bird swing flies high alongside modern classics like the Eames shell chairs and Saarinen Tulip table.

A swing made by architect Christopher Campbell flies high in his Maine retreat alongside modern classics like a Saarinen Tulip table and Eames shell chairs that pop against the wood paneling.

Photo by 
Originally appeared in A Northern Haven
9 / 9
Mix and match dining chairs around wood table with pendant lamp in Dwell magazine

The Eames shell chair mixes with EamesPKW-2 chairs, also by Herman Miller, along with Stokke's Tripp Trapp chair in this midcentury Portland home owned by a vintage furniture collector.

Photo by Grant Harder.

Charles and Ray Eames introduced their revolutionary design in 1948 with UCLA as part of MoMA's international competition for low-cost furniture design. Two years later, in 1950, Herman Miller began the first batch of production for the Molded Plastic Chair, in three zinc-plated or black steel bases: the rocker, the cat's cradle, and the cross-rod X base. 

Due to growing environmental concerns over the use of fiberglass, the Michigan-based company ceased production of the chairs in 1989. In the June 2008 Letters to the Editors section, the Eameses' nephew Eames Demetrios explained the ensuing decision to start manufacturing the iconic shell chair in recyclable polypropylene: "By the end of her life, Ray Eames was convinced of the environmental damage caused by fiberglass in landfills. It was this factor that lead us (and Herman Miller and Vitra, who make our authentic Eames chairs) to stop using fiberglass and use the recyclable plastic we use today."

As of 2013, Herman Miller, which holds the original molds used to fabricate the Eames shell chair, introduced its new eco-friendlier fiberglass substitute: "Through the development of a more sustainable fiberglass material chemistry, and with a new manufacturing process first developed in the automotive industry to eliminate volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and other Hazardous Air Pollutants (HAPs) in production, Herman Miller is able to once again offer a design icon in the lightly textured surface of fiberglass, while honoring its commitment to environmental sustainability."

Now, the modern icon lives on in a way that its environmentally-minded designer wouldn't hate. (The price tag? We couldn't call it "low cost," though certainly not as costly as other now-collectible midcentury antiques.)

For more on the design history of the Eames Molded Plastic Chair for Herman Miller, delve into Dwell's feature on the real cost of knock-offs, and watch a behind-the-scenes video on how to make a shell chair.

Join the Discussion

Loading comments...

Latest Articles

45 dva 2270 persp1 cmyk 0
The prospect of retirement doesn’t just signal the end of a career; it offers the chance to recalibrate and re-prioritize in life.
July 25, 2016
18
You don’t have to choose between sustainable energy and curb appeal.
July 19, 2016
jakemagnus queensland 1
Each week, we tap into Dwell's Instagram community to bring you the most captivating design and architecture shots of the week.
July 06, 2016
content delzresidence 013 1
Each week, we tap into Dwell's Instagram community to bring you the most captivating design and architecture shots of the week.
June 29, 2016
abc malacari marwick stair 01 0
A simple set of stairs is a remodel’s backbone.
June 28, 2016
Design Award of Excellence winner Mellon Square.
Docomomo US announces the winners of this year's Modernism in America Awards. Each project showcases exemplary modern restoration techniques, practices, and ideas.
June 27, 2016
monogram dwell sf 039 1
After last year’s collaboration, we were excited to team up with Monogram again for the 2016 Monogram Modern Home Tour.
June 27, 2016
switch over chicago smart renovation penthouse deck smar green ball lamps quinze milan lounge furniture garapa hardwood
A strategic rewire enhances a spec house’s gut renovation.
June 26, 2016
young guns 2016 emerging talent coralie gourguechon treviso italy cphotos by coralie gourguechon co produced by isdat planche anatomique de haut parleur1
Coralie Gourguechon's paper objects will make you see technology in a whole new way.
June 26, 2016
green machine smart home aspen colorado facade yard bocci deck patio savant
Smart technology helps a house in Aspen, Colorado, stay on its sustainable course.
June 25, 2016
Compact Aglol 11 television plastic brionvega.
The aesthetic appeal of personal electronics has long fueled consumer interest. A new industrial design book celebrates devices that broke the mold.
June 25, 2016
modern backyard deck ipe wood
An angled deck transforms a backyard in Menlo Park, California, into a welcoming gathering spot.
June 24, 2016
dscf5485 1
Today, we kicked off this year’s annual Dwell on Design at the LA Convention Center, which will continue through Sunday, June 26th. Though we’ve been hosting this extensive event for years, this time around is particularly special.
June 24, 2016
under the radar renovation napa
Two designers restore a low-slung midcentury gem in Napa, California, by an unsung Bay Area modernist.
June 24, 2016
Exterior of Huneeus/Sugar Bowl Home.
San Francisco–based designer Maca Huneeus created her family’s weekend retreat near Lake Tahoe with a relaxed, sophisticated sensibility.
June 24, 2016
light and shadow bathroom walnut storage units corian counter vola faucet
A Toronto couple remodel their home with a special emphasis on a spacious kitchen and a material-rich bathroom.
June 24, 2016
Affordable home in Kansas City living room
In Kansas City, an architecture studio designs an adaptable house for a musician on a budget.
June 23, 2016
modern lycabettus penthouse apartment oak vertical slats office
By straightening angles, installing windows, and adding vertical accents, architect Aaron Ritenour brought light and order to an irregularly shaped apartment in the heart of Athens, Greece.
June 23, 2016
kitchen confidential tiles custom cabinetry oak veneer timber house
A modest kitchen addition to a couple’s cottage outside of Brisbane proves that one 376-square-foot room can revive an entire home.
June 23, 2016
feldman architecture 0
Each week, we tap into Dwell's Instagram community to bring you the most captivating design and architecture shots of the week.
June 22, 2016
Blackened timber Dutch home
A modern dwelling replaces a fallen farmhouse.
June 22, 2016
hillcrest house interior kitchen 3
Seeking an escape from bustling city life, a Manhattan couple embarks on a renovation in the verdant Hudson Valley.
June 22, 2016
angular
Atelier Moderno renovated an old industrial building to create a luminous, modern home.
June 21, 2016
San Francisco floating home exterior
Anchored in a small San Francisco canal, this floating home takes its cues from a classic city habitat.
June 21, 2016
modern renovation addition solar powered scotland facade steel balcony
From the bones of a neglected farmstead in rural Scotland emerges a low-impact, solar-powered home that’s all about working with what was already there.
June 21, 2016
up in the air small space new zealand facade corrugated metal cladding
An architect with a taste for unconventional living spaces creates a small house at lofty heights with a starring view.
June 21, 2016
young guns 2016 emerging talent marjan van aubel london cwai ming ng current window
Marjan Van Aubel makes technology a little more natural.
June 21, 2016
urban pastoral brooklyn family home facade steel cypress double
Building on the site of a former one-car garage, an architect creates his family’s home in an evolving neighborhood of Brooklyn.
June 20, 2016
Modern Brooklyn backyard studio with plexiglass skylight, green roof, and cedar cladding facade
In a Brooklyn backyard, an off-duty architect builds a structure that tests his attention to the little things.
June 20, 2016
the outer limits paris prefab home living area vertigo lamp constance guisset gijs bakker strip tablemetal panels
In the suburbs of Paris, an architect with an eco-friendly practice doesn’t let tradition stand in the way of innovation.
June 20, 2016