Part of the 'Alu Group' range designed in 1957 and released in 1958, the full size Eames Ribbed Recliner Chair was a lounge chair model with adjustable tilting function, higher back rest and additional head support pillow. The reclining Alu Group lounge chair was made to be more luxurious and designed at an angle to provide the maximum rest and support to the user.
The tilt section sat just below the ‘antlers’ of the support bar and just above the stem of the base. It was a box shaped rolling tilt section constructed from rubber-and-steel called a Flo-Tilt cylinder. The chair was offered with (model 684) or without arms (model 683) and with the addition of an ottoman which was available to buy separately.
The Aluminum Group was designed to be utilized both indoor and out and was originally made available in Saran fabric and selected Naugahyde colors. Later Herman Miller would release the chair with leather and plastic mesh as well as concentrate the range for indoor and workplace markets. The Eames Alu Recliner Chair was released alongside a lounge chair as well as an upright desk chair with either a small or high back.
The Alu Group's versatility and popularity has rarely waned and the series have developed an iconic status, often inspiring modern designs as well as being very largely copied.
The Eames Reclining Alu Chair has seen some code changes, base changes and fabric option changes but has always been in constant production since its original release in 1958.
What are the model numbers and codes of the Alu Group Lounge Chair? Chairs in the Alu Group have baffled buyers, sellers and collectors for years with their seemingly endless array of product codes, numbers and names. Our estimated full Alu Group classification is available to view but for the Recliner model here is a brief summary to help:
|Seat Height||15.875"||40.32 cm|
|Upholstery||Naugahyde, Hopsack, Leather|
|Feet||Nylon Floor Glides|
Many of the designs of Charles and Ray Eames went through developments and changes over the years. Some were necessary and some were visual or based on usability. Flexibility was the main reason for change in the Alu Group with bases being introduced that could be used with glides or castors as the main catalyst. Generations are subjective but the Alu Group allows them to be fairly precise if the changes in bases and codes over the years are used to decide them.
Alu Group 1st Generation Pedestal Base
The Alu Group was designed in 1957 and released to the marketplace in 1958. The original 1st generation had the 4 way 'Pedestal' or 'contract' base.
This first base used a bright and polished aluminum, giving a solid support and eye catching finish.
The original model numbers were changed in 1966 with the introduction of Herman Miller's EA coding system.
Estimated years 1957-1973
The Universal (Spider) base with 4 legs and nylon floor glides
The second gen base was released in 1966 and is known as the Universal base. The new base didn't directly replace the pedestal bases as they were available side by side for some 7 years.
The new Universal base was designed for both floor glides and castors, though the recliner did not use the latter.
The tilt mechanism was changed in the mid 70's from the Flo-Tilt to a black torsion bar.
Estimated years 1966-1993
The 3rd generation Alu Group base featured 5 legs
The 3rd generation base retained the Universal style but with the addition of an extra leg, making a star shaped 5 leg version for extra stability.
Not only was this period important for the change of the base type but was also when leather was introduced as a fabric choice for the Alu Group Series.
The 5 star base overlapped the 4 star base before replacing it entirely in 1993..
Estimated years 1985-2011
Modern outdoor versions back on 4 star Universal bases
In 2011 Herman Miller changed back from the 5 star base to the older 4 star base and re-used the old code for the recliner.
The new generation has also been released for the outdoors, mirroring the original design from 1957. The recliner however is not yet part of the outdoor range but the lounge version is.
The new generation has also introduced a white frame for the chair.
Estimated years 2011-Present
Portrait view of Alu Recliner showing Tilt mechanism only used on 1st Gen (image courtesy of D Rose Mod)