Even though the release of the Eames Fiberglass Side Chairs only followed the Arm version by one year, there is significantly less in the way of generations than that of their sister chairs. In fact, very little ever gets said about the generations of the side versions which is not the case in the arms. It may have a lot to do with the lack of stamps and labels in the side chairs which is very much the opposite with the arms. Quite why this was the case will remain a mystery but the numbers of side chairs manufactured outnumbered arm versions by at least 10 to 1. We use generations, which are subjective, as a means to help authenticate, age, review and value a piece, and in this article we explore Eames Plastic Side Chair Generations.
Upholstered side chairs were different too throughout the generations of Eames Plastic Side Chairs. During the first generation the upholstered seat pad was actually removable and fixed around the edges using a wire based tightener. Removal of these early style seat pads would reveal a clean fiberglass shell underneath. Later generations and the upholstery was fixed in place by gluing onto the foam previously affixed to the shell, with a vinyl edging all the way around. These later upholstered chairs didn't have shock mounts either as Herman Miller could apply threaded lugs through the chair, hidden underneath the covering.
Why are the plastic chairs not considered a generation? ... this is a very good question and our opinion is only that, an opinion, but we are collectors and enthusiasts and our loyalty lies with design in its originality and these do not represent an Eames Chair. The introduction of the 'molded plastic' version of the sides occurred in 2001. History appears to write that the fiberglass versions were stopped for 'environmental reasons' though the reality is by 1989 they were entirely out of fashion. 2001 was also 13 years after the death of Ray and 23 after the death of Charles so neither had any involvement in this low cost, machine mass produced material. Even more revealing is that fiberglass is back among the good books and it is in fact plastics, including the polypropylene used in these chairs, that are now the scourge of the environment.