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The making of an Icon | Eames Shell Chair

August 26th, 2019

Category: WB Jamieson

Author: Darren Seymour


The now iconic and even legendary shell chair designed by Charles and Ray Eames was first made available to the public in 1950. It was more than just an aesthetically beautiful piece of furniture, it was also the first mass-produced plastic chair in the world. The Eames shell chair was made like no other furniture at the time. A real marvel of modern manufacturing process and engineering prowess. This is a brief post about how this timeless design is made.

 

Below are a selection of animated GIFs to illustrate the manuyfacturing process of the Eames shell chair. 

A signature resin fibreglass coating is mixed in the colour of the final chair.

Mixing resin for the Eames shell chair

The resin in poured over the fibreglass form to strengthen and give the shell its characteristic properties.

The resin is applied to a pre-formed glass fibre form

The preform fibre which has been coated in resin is then placed into a mould to form the chair's shape and remove excess fibreglass strands from the edges.

The coated resin coated form is placed into a press where the excess is cut off.

The solid formed shell is removed from the mould and tidied up with the rough edges being trimmed and sanded back to give the piece a smooth finish.

Sanding rough edges from the Eames chair

Precision made machine sewn upholstery is then added to the seat shell and attached with a combination of heat and heavy duty stitching.

Upholstery being added to the Eames shell

Once the shell is complete the legs, cross-struts, shock mounts and manufacturing labels are added to the base of the chair before protective packaging is added ready for shipping.

 The legs and struts are fitted to the shell base

The Finished Piece

The final chair comes in a variety of colours, finishes, base options and even with the added choice of upholstery. One thing that unites them all; Their timeless shape, long lasting durability and ultimately their functionality as a comfortable piece of furniture.

The finished Eames DSW fibreglass chairs

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