The earliest Eames fiberglass armchairs had “rope edges”. Charles and Ray wanted to produce a product with a consistent and uniform finish. They also cared about the user experience. One aspect of the user experience for the chair is the edges. With a molded fiberglass armchair, they could use a minimum amount of material, and in fact, a rather thin shell. However, they did not want the shell to be so thin as to have a sharp edge. They wanted radius edges (a “rounding” of exterior edges), which are comfortable in the hand.
At Zenith Plastics, they had never made a consumer product before meeting Charles and Ray Eames. They were completely new to the idea of user-friendly products. The only previous product they had made out of fiberglass was radar housing for airplanes. With this, no one really cared about its color, so they used uncolored fiberglass. Besides not caring about the color, no hands touched the fiberglass once installed, so they didn’t concern themselves with soft, rounded edges.
To give Eames shell chairs the rounded, softer edge that Charles and Ray designed, they inserted a rope along the shell’s edge on the first production examples. The ropes were round and molded in place on the edge, providing for a comfortable handgrip.
With this Elephant Grey set of armchairs, you can see the rope if you look closely and how skilled it is moulded into the fiberglass. Also the pattern of the fibers are super unique so without a doubt, this set will take your interior to another level.
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