Eames Plastic Armchair

Charles & Ray Eames, 1950

  • 'Getting the most of the best to the greatest number of people for the least': with these words, Charles and Ray Eames described one of their main goals as furniture designers. None of their other designs come as close to achieving this ideal as the Plastic Chairs. For years, the designer couple explored the fundamental idea of a one-piece seat shell moulded to fit the contours of the human body. After experiments with plywood and sheet aluminium in the 1940s produce unsatisfactory results, their search for alternative materials led them to glass-fibre reinforced polyester resin.

    The Eameses recognised and fully exploited the advantages of the material: mouldability, rigidity, pleasant tactile qualities, suitability for industrial manufacturing methods. With this material, which was previously unknown in the furniture industry, they successfully developed the shell designs for serial production. After their debut at the 'Low-Cost Furniture Design' competition organised by the Museum of Modern Art in 1948, the Plastic Armchair (A-shell) and Plastic Side Chair (S-shell) were launched on the market in 1950 as the very first mass-produced plastic chairs in the history of furniture.

    The Eames Plastic Chairs also introduced a new furniture typology that has since become widespread: the multifunctional chair whose shell can be combined with a variety of different bases to serve diverse purposes. As early as 1950, Charles and Ray Eames presented a series of bases that enabled various sitting positions. An especially striking model is the so-called Eiffel Tower base – an intricate and graceful design made of steel wire that inimitably combines light, elegant forms with structural strength.

    Today Vitra manufactures the comfortable seat shells of the Plastic Side Chairs and Plastic Armchairs in polypropylene, offering a multitude of bases, shell colours and upholstery options. This allows customers to specify countless different combinations and to use the chairs in the widest range of settings – from dining rooms, living rooms and home offices to office workspaces and conference rooms; from restaurants and cafés to break rooms and cafeterias; from waiting areas and auditoriums to terraces and gardens.

  • Seat shell

    04 white

    30 cream

    34 mustard

    93 classic green

    23 ice grey

    94 moss grey

    21 ocean

    73 navy blue

    03 red (poppy red)

    28 classic red

    89 oxide red

    25 mauve grey

    35 basalt

    01 basic dark

    Base DAW

    02 golden maple

    95 dark maple

    30 black maple

    Base DAR, DAX

    01 chrome

    30 basic dark powder-coated (smooth)

    Base DAL, PACC

    03 aluminium polished

    Base RAR

    01 chrome

    02 golden maple


    79 warmgrey/ivory

    69 grass-green/ivory

    70 grass-green/forest

    85 mint/ivory

    86 mint/forest

    87 ivory/forest

    77 nero/forest

    71 yellow/pastel green

    72 yellow/poppy red

    67 poppy red/ivory

    68 pink/poppy red

    65 coral/poppy red

    63 red/poppy red

    96 red/cognac

    62 red/moor brown

    81 ice blue/ivory

    83 blue/ivory

    84 blue/moor brown

    74 dark blue/ivory

    75 dark blue/moor brown

    82 ice blue/moor brown

    73 petrol/moor brown

    88 cognac/ivory

    76 marron/moor brown

    80 warmgrey/moor brown

    05 dark grey

    78 nero/moor brown

    66 nero


    01 basic dark

    04 white

    Seat shell: dyed-through polypropylene. All models (except RAR) are available with a seat cushion (screwed to the seat shell) or full upholstery. The fully upholstered version has moulded polyurethane foam padding covered in Hopsak fabric, attached to the shell with a welted edge. Covers are available in all Hopsak fabric colours. Different shell and upholstery colours and various bases provide a multitude of possible combinations.
    Options: the Eames Plastic Armchair is available as a visitor, dining, swivel or rocking chair. Beam-mounted shells are suited for use in waiting areas.

Charles and Ray Eames are counted among the most important figures of twentieth-century design. Their work spans the fields of furniture design, filmmaking, photography and exhibition design. Vitra is the sole authorised manufacturer of Eames products for Europe and the Middle East. When you own an Eames product made by Vitra, you know it is an original.
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