Watch the Amazing Process of Manufacturing an Iconic Eames Shell Chair

When the Eames debuted their now-legendary shell chair in 1950, it became the first mass-produced plastic chair in the world. This wasn't just an aesthetic icon—it was also a wonder of manufacturing and engineering. Now, Herman Miller is giving us a glimpse of how it's made.

A short design history of the chair, published by Herman Miller recently, offers a concise breakdown of its recently resurrected manufacturing process. And because this is 2014, the company has used GIFs to outline the various stages of production. Check out a few of the steps below, but be sure to head over to Herman Miller and check out the company's Instagram for more short media on the topic. [Herman Miller]

Herman Miller's modified fiberglass resin coating recipe gets mixed together in vats:

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Then the resin is smoothly applied to a preform cradle made of fiberglass strands:


The coated preform is placed in a press where the excess strands are cut off:

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The edges of the shell are hand-sanded and then polished with an electric sander:

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Machine cut and sown upholstery is attached to the chair and sealed in place with heat:

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The legs are attached to the chair's shock mounts before it's tagged, boxed, and shipped:

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DISCUSSION

I know I'm part of the minority here but I've never found these chairs attractive. I honestly think theyre kind of ugly. Yes Eames made a lot of great stuff and helped define mid-century modern, but I think this wasnt his greatest work. I'd also love to know why its so expensive. I understand why my parents kitchen chairs were $1,500 a peice, being custom, hand turned legs, all cherry, etc etc. But this no. I love his iconic "Eames Chair" but even for the $8,000 that HM asks for it I sit there and wonder. For that kind of money, you can find two chairs whose quality and looks are 2nd to none. But even then, at least they can make the argument saying it takes time/money to bend the plywood etc. This is a fiberglass mold. Just not my cup of tea. I much prefer the more "american" styling wooden MCM peices. My bedroom set is Franklin Shockey, which I was fortunate enough to get from my grandmother, still amazes me at the level of craftsmanship and the overall styling.