Fiberglass Side Shell
In the late 1940s the Eames Office began working with Herman Miller and the industrial plastics manufacturer Zenith Plastics with the aim of producing affordable and durable plastic shell chairs. Fiberglass-reinforced plastics had been developed during World War II for military applications, and the Eameses were among a number of designers who became interested in potential commercial applications for this new material after the war. Drawing on Ray’s acumen for sculptural form as well as the side chair developed for the Organic Design competition a decade earlier, the Eameses conceived of a unified seating shell that did away with any differentiation between a chair’s seat and back. An armchair was introduced in 1950, followed by this side chair model. In both cases, several different bases and a variety of colors were offered to meet a multitude of customer preferences. This prototype for a hot pink version, labeled with a sticker reading “H.M. pink” in Ray’s handwriting, reflects the ever-expanding color options introduced over the years. It is likely that this particularly vibrant shade would have only been available for contract, but not retail sales. Each time a new color was used in manufacturing, the two-part molds for the chairs had to be thoroughly cleaned. Custom colors, like this pink, were only offered if customers ordered at least 100 chairs.
- Manufacturer: Herman Miller, Inc.
- Dimensions:17 x 18 x 18 in. (43.2 x 45.7 x 45.7 cm)
- Design Date:1952
- Credit Line:All images courtesy of Eames Office