Savvy Saver Magazine
Savvy Saver Magazine

Finding the best Charles Eames replica chair

Finding the best Charles Eames replica chair
May 24, 2013
There are some furniture designs that become iconic, the fabulous Le Corbusier lounger for one, the Japanese-inspired Noguchi coffee table another, and perhaps the most popular today – the Charles Eames DSW chair. These all have one thing in common – timeless design, coupled with high quality construction using only the finest of materials. This results in a piece of art for our home, putting a smile on our face when we see them in situ, knowing we own something very special. Unfortunately today, the originals are now licensed in each country to just one company, which means they command extremely high prices. And why not, after all they aren’t your standard Ikea flatpack and have been lovingly crafted and admired for decades. While most of us can’t afford the original, we can get the next best thing, a reproduction or ‘inspired’ piece – effectively a copy but at the fraction of the cost. With so many on the market, we’ve looked at what’s available and where, specifically focusing on Charles Eames DSW replica chairs.

So who was Charles Eames?

Eames himself was born in Missouri back in 1907, initially following in his uncle’s footsteps by studying architecture at university. He put this experience in engineering and drawing to good use whilst working at the steel factory in the town he grew up in, expanding his knowledge further before moving on to become one of the most iconic designers of the 20th Century.

In 1948 the DSW (Dining-height Side chair in Wood) was entered into a design competition run by the Museum of Modern Art in New York, scooping a prize due to it’s focus on combining style with comfort. Decades later the original design still lives on, sold globally and being seen in both restaurants and homes. It’s a true icon and we absolutely love it!

Where can I get an original Charles Eames DSW chair?

Quite a few large retailers offer the licensed (original) chair in a multitude of colours – you may find it referred to as the Charles Eames Vitra DSW chair as Vitra is the company that holds the license (therefore if you see this you know it’s not a copy). This includes John Lewis, Heal’s and the Conran Shop just to name a few, with prices starting around the £320 mark for one. This equates to a whopping £1,920 for a set of six if you’re going down this route, so have your credit card handy!

As previously mentioned always look out for the ‘Vitra’ mark or brand reference when buying an original as essentially you’re paying for this name, much like other ‘designer’ products. The seat should be Polypropylene plastic and the legs produced from Maple wood - you’ll know it’s not an original by the price, coupled with references to it being a replica, reproduction or Charles Eames-inspired design. If it appears too good to be true, it will be as there are set RRPs and the retailers rarely stray far from these.

Who sells the best Charles Eames replica chairs and what should I look out for?

The reproduction Charles Eames chairs are sold in many more places, which means you need to be slightly wary about the quality of production, in a similar way to how you would with catwalk fashion that transcends down to the high street – think Primark Vs Zara. You’ll find some good quality examples of the DSW chair at Infurn and Interior Addict, and may be lucky enough to find one for even less in a daily deal at DesignFurn, a sister site to Infurn. Expect to pay anything from £60 - £110 a chair unless there are any reductions – if you see any listed for under £50 on other sites just be aware the build quality may be lacking.

Before you take the final step and hit that ‘Add to basket’ button, do some checks on the construction compared to the original. One key aspect is the plastic seat should connect to the wooden legs with rubber shock absorbers to provide additional comfort – if this is missing in the product description you may be in for a nasty shock when you come to use the chair for everyday dining.  Ideally you want maple wood legs if you’re trying to pass it off to your friends as an original and the seat should be plastic, not fibreglass.

A couple of other things that may be useful before you buy:

  1. The Charles Eames chairs (both original and replica) aren’t stackable, so think again if you were hoping to stack them in the corner when not in use
  2. The chairs are comfortable but not for everyone – try one out in a department store and sit in it for a few minutes (they don’t look good wish cushions!)
  3. These are not a self-build piece of furniture – if you see one that requires any assembly whatsoever, run a mile

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