Eames Fiberglass Armchair RAR
Charles & Ray Eames, 1950
With the debut of this revolutionary design, Charles and Ray Eames introduced a new furniture typology that has since spread around the globe: the multifunctional chair whose shell can be joined with a variety of different bases. One model has always stood out in this large family of chairs: the Rocking Armchair Rod Base (RAR). Despite its compact dimensions, this rocking chair offers pleasant comfort even for taller users. The fibreglass version of the organically shaped RAR shell features the lively texture that is a hallmark of this material. The fascination of fibreglass lies in its irregular surface, whose clearly visible fibres make it appear almost like a natural material. In order to show off these unique characteristics to maximum effect, the Fiberglass Chair RAR is not offered with full upholstery.
The Fiberglass Chair RAR is a fully fledged, compact armchair, which adds a striking accent to any living space with its iconic shape and steel wire base on wooden runners. For enhanced comfort, it is optionally available with an attached seat cushion. It is also available as the Plastic Chair RAR with a polypropylene shell, which can be fitted with an attached seat cushion or fully upholstered.
- Seat shell: dyed-through, glass-fibre reinforced polyester (fibreglass), whose characteristic irregular surface may exhibit a varying pattern of fibres or deviations in colour as well as small specks of pigmentation. Just like the earliest models, today's fibreglass shells are also slightly transparent in some colours. Optionally available with a moulded foam seat cushion (screwed to the seat shell); cushion can be replaced by the Vitra service team.
- RAR base: wire base with cross struts, solid maple runners. (RAR = Rocking Armchair Rod Base)
- Origin of wood: maple (Acer platanoides) from Western Europe and/or Poland.
Eames Fiberglass Chairs
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 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. Charles and Ray attached great importance to the use of colours – as fibreglass had previously only existed in a colourless version. They consequently spent many days in the factory, mixing hues for countless prototypes in their efforts to create colours that best accentuated the organic shape of both shell forms – with and without armrests – in a range of coordinated shades. The first colours developed by the Eameses were greige (a mix of grey and beige), elephant hide grey (to which Charles was referring when he said 'What I really want is a black with feeling') and the slightly transparent tone parchment. Colours such as sea foam green, yellow, ochre and red followed shortly after in the very early days of production. The Fiberglass Chairs were launched on the market in 1950, introducing a new furniture typology that has since become widespread: the multifunctional chair whose shell can be combined with a variety of bases to serve different purposes. In response to the enormous popularity of the chair, the choice of bases and colours was subsequently expanded. Over the course of the following decades, the Fiberglass Chairs became one of the best known furniture designs of the twentieth century. Vitra manufactures the Fiberglass Side Chairs and Armchairs by Charles and Ray Eames in several of the early original colours. The fibreglass shells are characterised by their lively visual appeal, which is much-prized today. Fibreglass owes its charm to an irregular surface, which appears almost like a natural material thanks to its clearly visible fibres. For enhanced comfort, Eames Fiberglass Chairs are also available with an optional seat cushion. The Eames Fiberglass Chairs are available alongside the Eames Plastic Chairs with polypropylene shells. Together the two chair groups form an extensive family, enabling countless variations of the classic Eames design, with a suitable version for almost every taste and purpose.
Charles & Ray Eames
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.