VITRA releases limited edition of eames' iconic fiberglass armchair with steinberg cat

VITRA releases limited edition of eames' iconic fiberglass armchair with steinberg cat

Vitra presents the reproduced eames Armchair with Steinberg Cat

 

The Eames Shell Chairs were the world’s first industrially mass­ produced chairs with the seat and backrest formed from a one-piece plastic shell. Soon after their launch in 1950, Charles and Ray Eames‘ good friend Saul Steinberg visited the couple in their office, where the artist picked-up a paint brush and drew a sleeping cat on the seat. This historic moment is revived in 2023 as VITRA collaborates with Herman Miller and the Eames Office to produce a limited edition of 500 pieces of the Fiberglass Armchair with Steinberg Cat.

 

For the design enthusiasts out there, the drop takes place on 14 June 8:45pm (CET), while the pre-sale for everyone who pre-registers at 8pm (CET) – more here.

VITRA releases limited edition of eames' iconic fiberglass armchair with steinberg cat
Eames Fiberglass with Steinberg Cat, staged at the Eames House © VITRA | photo by Florian Bohm (Studio AKFB) | Eames House © Eames Foundation, 2023

 

 

vitra begins its collaboration with the eames

 

Charles and Ray Eames are two of the most influential designers of the twentieth century. Over the course of four decades, the American husband-and-wife team created groundbreaking films, architecture, exhibitions and toys – in addition to their extensive output of furniture. Their connection with VITRA begun in 1953 when the company’s founders Willi and Erika Fehlbaum discovered one of the designers’ chair in a window display in New York City. Captivated by the design, the pair decided to retain the rights to all other markets and produce the Eames products, marking the beginning of a personal and genuine relationship.

 

Charles and Ray Eames are our heroes: they are the figures who, more than anyone else, have given this company its defining form and ideas. These were people of incredible talent, very hard workers and visionaries. They not only made furniture, but were architects, filmmakers, photographers and educators, thinking not only about our society, but the world,’ says Rolf Fehlbaum, VITRA Chairman Emeritus.

VITRA releases limited edition of eames' iconic fiberglass armchair with steinberg cat
Eames Fiberglass with Steinberg Cat, staged at the Eames House © VITRA | photo by Florian Bohm (Studio AKFB) | Eames House © Eames Foundation, 2023

 

 

the story of the chair

 

The Eames Plastic Chair is an essential referential piece of the twentieth century, being repeatedly enhanced and adapted to changing situations over the course of its long production history. It all started in the 1940s when Charles and Ray Eames devoted themselves to exploring the idea of a one-piece seat shell molded to fit the the contours of the human body. The couple’s continuous search for alternative materials led them to fiberglass reinforced polyester resin, which the two recognized and fully exploited for serial production. Its organically shaped uniform shell proved to be a much-admired innovation at a time when chairs primarily consisted of a seat and backrest.

VITRA releases limited edition of eames' iconic fiberglass armchair with steinberg cat
Production of Eames Fiberglass Chairs © Eames Office

 

 

Originally intended as affordable mass-produced items, which found widespread use in homes, offices and conference rooms, cafeterias, auditoriums and stadiums as well as numerous other settings, the chairs were gradually outmoded by technical advancements and cheaper materials. This prompted VITRA to stop the production of the fiberglass shells in the early 1990s. Around ten years later, the company relaunched the product in a polypropylene version. 

VITRA releases limited edition of eames' iconic fiberglass armchair with steinberg cat
Saul Steinberg with drawn face on his hand, Long Island, 1978 © Estate of Evelyn Hofer

 

 

the sleeping cat finds its place on the Eames Fiberglass Armchair

 

Shortly after the Eames duo had developed the Shell Chairs, their good friend Saul Steinberg went by their office. The Romanian-American artist and architect had already made a name for himself with his humorous and occasionally provocative drawings of people and animals – especially cats. During his visit, Steinberg spontaneously picked up a brush and drew a number of lively figures on the furniture, floors and walls of the studio, with one of the leading figures being a cat sleeping on their renowned Chair.

 

From all the illustrations expressed on the furniture, only two vintage specimens still exist today: the cat, and part of a female nude, also on an armchair shell. While the chair with the cat is owned by the Eames Office and archived in the Eames Institute, the other one is on permanent loan to the Vitra Design Museum.

VITRA releases limited edition of eames' iconic fiberglass armchair with steinberg cat
Eames Fiberglass Armchair with nude figure and cat by Saul Steinberg, 1967 © Eames Office

 

 

VITRA, the Eames Office, and Herman Miller collaborate together to produce a total of 500 pieces of the Eames Fiberglass Armchair with Steinberg Cat, 300 of which are sold by VITRA. Using the scan of the original at the Eames Institute, a generated 3D file makes it possible to apply Steinberg’ s drawing to the fiberglass shell as faithfully as possible. This is done manually on each individual shell by an artist, using paint which has also been especially evaluated to be as close as possible to the original.

VITRA releases limited edition of eames' iconic fiberglass armchair with steinberg cat
the drawing on the Fiberglass Armchair is done manually on each product by an artist, using paint which has also been painstakingly evaluated to be as close as possible to the original | © VITRA

 

eames-fiberglass-armchair-steinberg-cat-vitra-designboom-fullwidth

Eames Fiberglass Armchair with Steinberg Cat, Production © VITRA

VITRA releases limited edition of eames' iconic fiberglass armchair with steinberg cat
Eames Fiberglass Armchair with Steinberg Cat, Production © VITRA

 

eames-fiberglass-armchair-steinberg-cat-vitra-designboom-02fullwidth

the Chair staged at the Eames House © Vitra | photo by Florian Bohm (Studio AKFB) | Eames House © Eames Foundation, 2023

VITRA releases limited edition of eames' iconic fiberglass armchair with steinberg cat
the Eames Fiberglass Armchair with Steinberg Cat, 1967 © Eames Office

 

 

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Charles and Ray Eames © Eames Office
Charles and Ray Eames © Eames Office
Production of Eames Fiberglass Chairs © Eames Office
Production of Eames Fiberglass Chairs © Eames Office
Eames Fiberglass Armchair with nude figure by Soul Steinberg, 1950 © Eames Office
Eames Fiberglass Armchair with nude figure by Soul Steinberg, 1950 © Eames Office
Eames Fiberglass Armchair with cat by Saul Steinberg, 1970s
Eames Fiberglass Armchair with cat by Saul Steinberg, 1970s
Eames Fiberglass Arcmhair with cat by Saul Steinberg, 1950 | photo by Peter Stackpole
Eames Fiberglass Arcmhair with cat by Saul Steinberg, 1950 | photo by Peter Stackpole

project info:

 

brand: VITRA | @vitra

name: Eames Fiberglass Armchair with Steinberg Cat

chair design: Charles and Ray Eames | @eamesoffice

illustration: Saul Steinberg

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