How to Tell if a Eames Lounge Chair Has Been Repaired

An Eames lounge chair that has been repaired. This is a good repair, but any repair will greatly decrease its value.

An Eames lounge chair that has been repaired. This is a good repair, but any repair will greatly decrease its value.

This is an Eames lounge that has not been repaired. You need to inspect a chair closely before deciding to buy.

This is an Eames lounge that has not been repaired. You need to inspect a chair closely before deciding to buy.

Many sellers and buyers who are familiar with the design and history of the Eames lounge will tell you it is usually not a matter of if, but when the construction will fail. Because there are no screws protruding through the wood shells and holding the chair “together,” the design carries the inherent risk of shock-mount failure. The shock-mounts are rubber pieces which are heat-glued to the inner portions of the wood panels. The sections are then attached to these mounts making for a seamless look to the wood shells. What we are seeing with the vintage chairs is the failure of this glue, whether it happened recently or 20-plus years ago.

For some reason, the chairs from the 1970s seem to be the biggest culprits when it comes to this kind of damage. This could be to a possible change in the glue or heat process. Or it could just be due to the fact that sales were very high during the 1970s for this lounge and so many from this time period turn up. Because of this failure, you will see more and more chairs with drilled wood panels or with added screws. People did this because they really had no other way of fixing the chair. Some epoxies can hold for awhile, but eventually break over time. In many instances, the lower seat back would fail and the other side remained attached, causing the person sitting in the chair to break the lower wood shell into two pieces (shown below) as the weight of their body added so much force to one side.

If one side of the lower seat back fails, and the other side remained attached, the weight of the person sitting in the chair can cause it to break the lower wood shell into two pieces.

If one side of the lower seat back fails, and the other side remained attached, the weight of the person sitting in the chair can cause it to break the lower wood shell into two pieces.

Some repairs are done very well and look like a factory job, but please understand this: the Eames lounge was never meant to have visible screws to the wood portions. This repair will GREATLY reduce the value of any lounge, no matter how nice or clean it looks. If you are in the market for a vintage Eames lounge, be careful when purchasing online or sight-unseen. When possible, ask the seller to send side-view pictures of both sides of the chair. If there appears to be wood filler or visible marks or screws, especially to the wood under the arms, I would continue my search if I were you.

Herman Miller did repair failed shock mounts in the 1990s and performed other repairs, but I am unsure if they still do this. You may contact a local Herman Miller rep in your area to see if they still offer this repair. A Google search will also reveal some woodworkers which repair the Eames Lounge but we have not dealt with any directly.

You can also visit the website http://www.mancha.demon.co.uk/spares.html for many Eames lounge parts and even a repair/upgrade kit for the mounts. I know of only two epoxies that have shown good results if you wish to repair your Eames lounge yourself. You can see one epoxy at this website http://www.gailwileydesigns.com/zapglue%20web%20site/30min.html and the other at this website http://www.pcepoxy.com/pastepoxy.asp.

For very specific questions regarding your Eames item, please contact Daniel Ostroff via e-mail at vintage@eamesoffice.com. He is not an appraiser; those types of questions should be directed to me.

Other articles about the Eames Lounge Chair by Bradley Downs:

The Iconic Eames Lounge Chair; Is That One Real or Fake?
Telling the Age of Your Vintage (or Newer) Eames Lounge

Bradley Downs is a Worthologist who specializes in mid century modern furniture and the owner of www.odd2mod.com in Atlanta, Ga.

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