Eames Expert Shares How To Tell If A Chair Is An Imitation Or Partial Fake
By Mikelle Leow, 04 Sep 2023
Illustration 276168206 © Aiartcreations2020 | Dreamstime.com
Eames chairs stand as enduring icons of modern design, a testament to the visionary creativity of Charles and Ray Eames. With sleek lines and an innovative use of materials that were ahead of their time, these classics have transcended their utilitarian purpose to become true symbols of elegance and functionality. There have been few designs that have left such an indelible mark; these pieces accentuate homes and offices of all kinds, and we know that, up until recently, they were staples in Twitter’s headquarters.
It therefore comes as no surprise that Eames wannabes are rampant in a collector’s world, especially in Europe. Some of the copycats are pure counterfeits, while others are made up of both real and fake parts—a category that the Eames Institute bills as “FrankenEames.”
To help collectors and furniture enthusiasts overcome this deep-seated phenomenon, Daniel Ostroff, a longtime expert of Ray and Charles Eames’ design sensibilities as well as the head of acquisitions and research at the Eames Institute, breaks down the anatomy of the so-called “FrankenEames” in an article published by the organization’s Kazam! magazine.
To start, you might need to get a small, flashlight-size UV light, which will shine a light on a chair’s authenticity.
Ostroff, who has acquired an “encyclopedic understanding” of Eames furniture, warns of a long-running scam in Europe in which less scrupulous dealers would purchase proper Eames furniture from the US, discard the bases, and then attach the real shells to non-genuine bases and sell the reconstructed pieces as “authentic” 1970 chairs.
There are some tiny giveaways that point to a chair being a hybrid, like shiny screws. A screw on a true antique chair should have “a consistent glow,” the Eames expert explains. On the other hand, if a part of the screw “glows brightly in contrast to the rest of the design,” it suggests that components of the chair may have been repaired or replaced.
Seasoned collectors have also learned to distinguish which era a chair may have been produced in by looking at its leg glides.
“With fiberglass chairs or molded plywood chairs,” he details, “collectors will look closely at the shock mounts on the underside, because you can tell if the mounts are original and which base was originally married to that chair.”
Shock mounts that are “dented” indicate that they had belonged to “a stacking chair, and someone has put it on a rocking base,” Ostroff elaborates.
Another tip is to have your Eames chair shipped fully assembled to you, so that you can inspect the screws.
This article was crafted with assistance from an AI engine, and has been manually reviewed & edited.
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