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The bedtime stories may change, the armchair stays the same.

Lounge Chair
The story of a Vitra original

When Birgitte von Halling-Koch was 15 years old, a special delivery from Vitra arrived at her childhood home in Copenhagen: an Eames Lounge Chair and Ottoman. That was back in 1958, and it was one of the first Lounge Chairs in Scandinavia– if not the very first. A decade or so later, the family took the armchair from Denmark to their summer home in Sweden. Today Birgitte, her sister, brother and all the children and grandchildren share this house, which is where we met Birgitte.

How did your family come to own one of the first Lounge Chairs?

My father, Percy von Halling-Koch, who was also called Bum by his friends, saw the Eames Lounge Chair when it was presented at the 1957 Triennale in Milan, and he liked it so much that he ordered the chair right away.

How would you describe your life with the Eames Lounge Chair?

The chair has always been used by the whole family, and it was never given any special care. It was utilised like all of our other furnishings – as functional everyday objects. The only rule was that the cats and dogs weren’t allowed on the Lounge Chair, or on any other furniture for that matter


How is your Lounge Chair mostly used?

For sitting with my grandchildren on my lap and telling them bedtime stories, and for reading good books, and for taking naps during the day. It’s hard to resist falling asleep in it – after 60 years it is still so incredibly comfortable. I cannot count how many times my parents, my children, my grandchildren and I have nodded off into the land of dreams in that chair. It is a dear treasure of ours, full of so many memories.


How would you describe the quality of the Eames Lounge Chair? Did you ever have to repair it?

The quality over the years has been amazing. We had it repaired only once a few years ago when the back became detached. The glue on the shock mounts must have weakened. Then we contacted a local dealer of Eames furniture, who ordered a special glue through Vitra and fixed it. The chair has worked perfectly ever since.

Would you ever consider selling the Eames Lounge Chair?

No, I believe the chair belongs to this house now, and to my family, who comes here to work, or to go on holiday and enjoy some quiet time away from home. It is a dear treasure of mine, of my sister, brother, and of my parents’ grandchildren and great-grandchildren. It is a symbol of childhood memories, teenage dreams and parenthood, and an essential part of our home.

‘Take your pleasure seriously.’
Charles & Ray Eames

Today Birgitte and her siblings are the owners of the Halling-Koch Design Center founded by their father. When not in Copenhagen, Birgitte also spends time working at the summer home in Sweden. Here, the Lounge Chair occupies a prominent place in front of the window, with a view of a lake dotted by many small islands. Over the decades, the black leather of the chair has developed fine creases and veins, and the palisander shells have taken on a lighter shade – changes that are characteristic of natural materials and lend furnishings a patina that reveals their unique history.

For 60 years Vitra has been the sole authorised manufacturer of the Eames Lounge Chair for markets in Europe and the Middle East; the American manufacturer Herman Miller is responsible for all other markets. The cooperation between Vitra and Charles & Ray Eames began in 1957 and continues today in close partnership with the Eames Office, which represents the Eames family. This ensures that every Lounge Chair gives its user the exact design experience originally intended by Charles and Ray Eames. Just as it did 60 years ago, production of the Lounge Chair today requires 47 different steps, many of which must be performed by hand. The meticulous execution of each step, in combination with premium-grade materials, ensures the enduring quality that makes the Lounge Chair last for generations. And if anything might ever need to be repaired, Vitra Service is there to help. Even 60 years from now. A certainty that only the original can offer.


Publication date: 20.10.2017
Images: Brian Buchard, Marc Eggimann, Marek Iwicki



Vitra originals and their stories in the Vitra Magazine
Invest in an original, for it will always retain its worth. An imitation will never be anything but a copy, a stolen idea. Appreciate the differences – not just the quality and more obvious variances but also the sensory and emotional appeal of the authentic product. An original is a lifelong companion and may well outlive you to be gratefully received by the next generation. But that’s a story for the future.
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