Back to the top

The Chair of a Century

The Eames Shell Chairs in New Colours

For many years, Charles and Ray Eames explored the idea of a single shell moulded to fit the contours of the human body. They finally achieved their goal with the 1950 Eames Shell Chair, a ground-breaking innovation that founded a new chair typology: the multi-functional shell chair. The chair quickly conquered homes, offices and public spaces alike, and the Eames design came to inspire generations. While the Eames Shell Chair´s variants and materials evolved over time, it´s design concept has stayed relevant for seven decades.

This year, Vitra introduces a new colour range for the Eames shell chairs – Eames Plastic Chairs, Eames Fiberglass Chairs and Wire Chairs. The colour palette offers a rich spectrum of hues highlighting the special properties of the different materials. The interplay of vibrant and more subtle colours offers new combinations and opportunities to configurate your own design icon.

Over 100 000 combinations

Our design teams carefully researched archival holdings and the vintage market to determine the historical use of colours by Charles and Ray Eames, and merged this knowledge with a broad-based analysis of current needs and market offers. Based on these findings, the palettes of the seat shells for the Eames Plastic Chairs, the Fiberglass Chairs and Hopsak cover fabric were revised in close collaboration with the Eames Office. With new colours, a broad selection of seat shells and countless bases, there are now even more possibilities to create your perfect chair.

© Eames Office, LLC
© Eames Office, LLC

When designing the palette for the Fiberglass Chairs with their moulded shells, Charles and Ray Eames attached great importance to offering a range of neutral hues that would blend well with a wide variety of interior settings. They sought to develop integral colours that permeate the material and envelop the glass fibres. Charles and Ray Eames knew that this new design differed starkly from other chairs available at the time. Therefore the fibreglass colours had to be very carefully considered to achieve the acceptance of consumers, resulting in an understated palette for the shells.

Eames Plastic Side Chair DSW Eames Plastic Armchair DAW_Web-16-9

The inventive base system allows the chair to be used in a variety of different environments, both in homes and offices. You can find a version to suit every need - simply by selecting the appropriate base and choosing an armchair or side chair shell – and every style thanks to the large array of colours designed by Ray Eames.

A Black with Feeling

© Eames Office, LLC

While working on the Eames Fiberglass Chairs in the early 1950s, Charles and Ray Eames designed a range of nuanced shades for the chairs. They would spend endless hours in the factory, tweaking the dyes and making slight alterations to the specifications of each colour option, often creating several different shell samples in just one day to find the perfect shade.

Read more in the Vitra Magazine

Some say that objects have the power to retain memories. We invite you to tell us your Eames tales. When did you first encounter the Eames Shell Chairs? How do you live with them? If you were to pass an Eames chair on to the next generation, what would you tell them? Share your story and your images with us on social media using the Hashtags #deareames and #VitraOriginal.


Vitra Take-Back Programme

Vitra extends the repair and service offer for the Eames Fiberglass Chair and Eames Plastic Chairs and introduces a take-back programme, which will ensure proper recycling of the chairs at the end of their life cycle.