(Image courtesy of D Rose Modern)
Released as part of the Alu Group in 1969, the Eames High Back Soft Pad Alu Chair was designed to be a top of the range executive option with full tilting and height adjustment as standard and available in either castors or floor glides. Primarily meant for the workplace, the High Back Soft Pad chair was initially released only in Black Leather and is one of the most recognizable chair designs of the last century.
On its introduction to the market, the High Back Soft Pad Alu eames chair had two available options, one on castors (EA220) and one instead with nylon floor glides (EA219) but both were fully loaded with all the mechanical tilting and adjusting one could require in the office. The super comfortable chair was also fitted with arms as standard and was very much the pinnacle of the Soft Pad range.
The first releases were only in Black Leather but as the 1970's moved on more colors of leather and fabric upholstery were introduced. There was some dimension tweaks too in the 70's before an entire change of base shape in 1985.
The Eames Soft Pad range mirrored that of the already existing 'ribbed' Alu Group chairs and the High Back was available alongside Low Back options as well as a Lounge Chair and a Recliner and Ottoman.
Ever since its 1969 release the Eames High Back Soft Pad Alu Chair has been in continuous production and is a popular today as the day it was made. It has also been the source of great inspiration for chair and office chair design over the years.
All the Alu Group, including Eames High Back Soft Pad Alu Chair, have one thing in common; multiple model numbers and codes spanning the decades destined to confuse buyers and sellers alike in years to come. The good news is that we can classify the codes and numbers based on their age, generation and type and put them into a handy page. The codes of the High Back Soft pad can be found here:
A decade on from the successful launch of the Eames and Herman Miller's Alu Group series, the Soft Pad was born in 1968, adding new choices to the business or home office. Using the same chair chassis as the original Alu Group, the Soft Pad added a further option of luxury and comfort with its extra leather padding. The introduction video showcases the 'high back' management chair from the Soft Pad range with it's extra seat padding. This example is from the late 1990's and still shows really well in its vintage condition.
|Height||40" - 42"||101.6 cm - 106.68 cm|
|Seat Height||18.5" - 20.5"||47 cm - 52.07 cm|
|Frame||Sand Cast Aluminum|
|Upholstery||Leather, Hopsack, Custom Fabric|
|Base||4-star, 5-star Universal Bases|
|Feet||Castors or Foot Glides|
There are many tweaks to the designs of Charles and Ray Eames which can so easily be interpreted as generational changes to the product. It is important to understand that generations were never pre thought out but were just significant design changes. For the Alu Group and the High Back Soft Pad Chair we decided to consider the changes of base as the main generations that help us to age and authenticate.
The first generation High Back Soft Pad Chair sitting on the 4-star Universal Base with castors
The first generation of the Soft Pad High Back Chair released in 1969 had the Universal base with 4 lateral legs and was only available in Black Leather to begin with. The base could be fitted with either castors or glides.
The Soft Pads all received a tweak in their dimensions in 1973 which prompted a model code change and other fabrics and leather colors were introduced before the second gen arrived in 1985.
Estimated years 1968-1985 and 2011-Present
The second generation High Back chair on the 5 star Universal Base and castors
The second generation of base arrived in 1985 with a change in shape. The 4 legs of the Universal Base was transformed into 5 in an attempt to add stability to the design, especially with the rigors of professional use.
The new base was initially available alongside the 4-star version until finally superseding it. The High Back Soft Pad remains on this base today and has never been out of production.
Estimated years 1985-Present
Early High Back Soft Pad Executive Chair in Red Leather on 4-star base (image courtesy of D Rose Mod)
Light Tan Leather version of the High Back Soft Pad Chair on the 5-star 2nd gen base (Image courtesy of CIrca Modern)
View of the High Back Soft Pad from the rear top facing down giving a nice view of the overall frame (Image courtesy of D Rose Modern)
View of the High Back Soft Pad Chair underside, base and Torsion Bar system for tilt and adjustment (Image courtesy of D Rose Modern)