Rocker

One of the things that I love about Eames shell chairs is how versatile they are by design. Take out four screws, pop on a new base, and BLAM-O, your desk chair on casters just became a lounge chair! Or a dining chair! Or a school desk! Or a bench at the laundromat with pieces of ABC gum stuck and hardened on the bottom! Like magic.

I bought that blue shell about a year and a half ago when I was visiting Chandler in Portland. The original naugahyde upholstery had seen MUCH better days, so I made the decision to just strip off the upholstery, restore the shell, throw a 4-star contract swivel base on it, and cover the screw holes on the seat of the chair with an IKEA sheepskin. Like so:

That’s the other great thing about the original fiberglass shells—they’re INCREDIBLY durable and even the crappiest-looking, saddest, down-n-out washed-up piece-of-shit chair can be brought back to gleaming, glorious life with a few simple steps and only a couple potentially hazardous chemicals. I can’t stress enough: when it comes to shells, vintage is always, always best.

I talked some jive after the restoration about replacing the base with a rocking base and using it in my Manhattan living room, but I found a dining table instead so the chair remained a desk chair through my move to Brooklyn. Using it as a rocker was always in the back of my mind, but there hasn’t been a great spot for one here, either.

UNTIL NOW.

Hello, baby. You are so ubiquitous and I love you.

I finally bit the bullet and purchased a rocking base (black metal with birch runners) from the Modern Conscience eBay shop. For 95 bucks plus super cheap $4 shipping, it’s basically a whole new chair for just under $100. So worth it. The base is really nice and seems very well-made and assembly could not have been easier. I can also say that there was a slight hiccup with the shipping but the customer service at Modern Conscience was extremely responsive and remedied the situation quickly and efficiently.

For serious stalkerz, don’t you worry—Bertoia Diamond is still around, just not in this same spot. The living room has been feeling a little stale and I needed to shake things up. Yes, white Bertoia set against black pocket doors totally brought the high-contrast drama, but bright blue rocker brings some summery colorful fun or whatever that I love.

The other great thing about these chairs is how petite they are, taking all the comfort from a big lounge chair but none of the size. It’s comfy and cozy and a place people actually want to sit, but appropriately scaled to smaller spaces. It’s also super duper light, so it’s easy to move around all the time to wherever my finicky heart desires.

I also like having this chair in the living room because it plays off the blues in the rug super well. That’s not usually something I spend too much time worrying about, but I do like when really different pieces coordinate instead of trying to get all matchy-matchy with shit.

This chair is the best of all the chairs. To review:

1. Versatile.
2. Durable.
3. Small.
4. Cute & colorful.
5. Comfy.

I don’t care that everyone and their mother has one. I love it. I love it so much.


35 Comments

  1. As always – J.E.A.L.O.U.S.

    I must be a serious stalker “where’s the Bertoia?” was my first thought.

    :)

  2. This makes me want to bring my bright blue naugahyde armshell up from the basement.

  3. Love, love, love.
    Sincerely,
    Love

    PS: LOVE.

  4. Eames rocker boners.

    *On a side note, since I was JUST photographing my M.C. dowel bases, I’m not too thrilled with the quality of my repo bases. They feel flimsy and very fragile compared to other knock off bases I’ve rustled up in the past. Great customer service for sure and super friendly folks at MC, but I’m a tad disappointed after I got them assembled and don’t think I’d buy another of the dowels. Maybe the rocker is much better…I mean it looks like the sex.

    • That’s interesting…I have no real experience with any other knock-offs or the real rocking bases, so I really don’t have anything to compare to, but mine feels very sturdy. My one gripe would be with the wood—the pics online look much richer/darker and sealed with something, but the ones I got are lighter and seem a little dry? I used some Danish oil but thinking about tung? Also, the wood tone is pretty different between the two runners…I’m sure I’m the only one who will ever notice but they could have been a better match, I guess. At the end of the day, though, I’m happy with the quality for the price.

      (that said, I’ve only had it about a week, so who knows!)

  5. I was just going to chime in about Modern Conscience too. We’ve had our dowel bases for about a year now and so far so good (love that the company is based out of Seattle and we could pick them up at their sweet loft space). Then again, I haven’t bought any other repro bases so don’t have a good point of comparison.

    Sexy rocker though – that was the original thought for the nursery but decided we’d Eames-binged as it is.

  6. I’ve been wondering about that sheepskin throw for a while now. Glad to know it’s both cheap and available! Also, how’s that hallway coming along?

    • Blarg…fine…need a sunny day to photo it (so dark in there!) and I can’t stop futzing with the art.

  7. I just sat in one of those rockers recently for the first time. Really comfortable. It was my sisters boyfriend 30th birthday present and I thought he choose well. Unfortunately it was a new one though- I even discussed with my father how I prefered the look of the old shells, and he said, that he did too, but that it would be dificult to find the right vintage shell colour with a rocker base to which I replied “you can change the base”. He was really impressed and asked me if that was really possible. I answered, I have seen it on the internet. I will have to show him your post:-)
    Unfortunately that stuff is really expensive over here. Vintage rockers go for around 1200 American dollars on ebay and even simple shells for several hunderds.I think that means that I will have to wait for my 30th birthday to own one too:-(

  8. You know, you only thing of them as ubiquitous because you hang out with people with AWESOME design sense. I don’t think any of my friends or family own Eames shell chairs.

    • Haha, I just meant ubiquitous in the modern design blog/magazine kind of way…especially in the States, the Eames rocker is a nice go-to that pops up all over the place—looks good but definitely doesn’t scream unique.

      I only know a couple people IRL who actually own shell chairs, though!

  9. Yeah! Awesome! You should love it, it rules!

    I love the color of your vintage shell chair and the black rocker base with it totally makes it super cool.

    I’ve ordered from Modern Conscience twice in the past and both times had trouble with the shipping, weird that you did too. I guess you can’t complain when they only charge 4 bucks to ship.

    Someone at some point in time decide my shell chairs would be way better if they had drainage holes drilled into them, bah. I covered ’em up with a sheepskin too. Good move us.

  10. I love a good Eames rocker story. I was recently gifted my very first Eames rocker. I spotted it at a Parisian flea market, I swooned, I fell in love, I hesitated, I left it too late, I regretted it, boyfriend flew to the rescue and secretly went back to buy it and surprise me. There it was, standing on our dining room table when I got home one night. Now I love it even more than if I had bought it on the spot.

    • Do you think your boyfriend might be persuaded to swing both ways? He sounds so dreamy. I’m…um…asking for a friend.

  11. We’re always playing catch-up with this chair …. it teases us with its good looks and knowingly pokes fun at the fact we’ve yet to finish restoring our ‘once upholstered but not anymore’ shell!

    • Did you buy that Soy-It stuff? Apparently it makes the whole thing super easy! Don’t try to follow my goo-gone/razor blade technique…you will want to stab yourself.

  12. I want an Eames rocker so badly. I keep hoping someone posts one on craigslist without knowing what they really have. No such luck so far.

    • Yeah, usually the best way is to just find a chair and then buy a knock-off rocking base, like this one. Then you can sell the old base and maybe even recoup some of the cost! Rockers don’t come around too often, especially not authentic ones, unless you want to drop some serious money.

  13. Love how that chair looks in your living room! Thanks for posting about where to find bases. I need to find a replacement black base for a Bertoia blue fiberglass chair – I’m gonna contact MC and see if they have anything. My chairs came from some kind of EST camp in Napa. I’m pretty sure people were sitting naked and primal screaming on them at one time.

  14. I hate you and your plethora of options in bases. Damn Americans..!

    ;)

  15. That’s it? that is all your have done with your money? sorry, I ove you. love the Eames chair. Let’s get cracking buddy. let’s start spending your money and entertaining me. Sorry my life is so worthless that I count on you.

  16. $100 down, $4,900 to go, eh?

    (or maybe you’ve already spent more of your wonderful prize winning$ and haven’t shown us yet ?!?!? : )

    nice job! I agree how nicely it accentuates the blue in the rug

    • HAHAHA. I gotta save a little bit of it!

      Things have been slow here for good reasons…all will be revealed soon…

  17. I have lusted after one of these for years, ubiquitous or not. Would a tall person fit comfortably in one of these? They seem so low and toy-sized! Looks beatiful in any case.

    • Well, I’m a bit toy-sized myself, but I find it super comfortable and I think most people would! Maybe not a giant, but they were made to fit most bodies, I think. Charles Eames himself was a pretty tall man!

  18. Oh, come on now! Whatcha got against Naugahyde?

    Do love what you did to the chair. Now if I could only find a fixer-upper like that.

    • I don’t have anything against Naugahyde! Unless it’s cracked and moldy and separating from its frame…then I’m not such a huge fan.

      They’re out there, especially if you’re in the States! Craigslist…sometimes ebay there’ll be one in really rough shape, but the shipping might kill you unless you can pick up locally.

      • Thanks Daniel. Will keep a look out.
        Had to give you a bad time about the Naugahyde…I was a child of the 70s and the stuff brings back bad memories.

  19. Hi Daniel! I’m a huge fan of M-N! This is off-topic to this particular post, but I just saw these Hudson Bay Co. dog beds, and thought of you and your beloved puppy, and blanket (from a much older post).

  20. I hate when my children use words that make me run for my nearest dictionary. :-( Just teasing. He really uses words like ubiquitous as if it just rolls right off your tongue. Not me, must have gotten that from his father.

  21. Maru the cat must read your blog.

    http://sisinmaru.blog17.fc2.com/

    Only his chair is yellow.

  22. I love the rocker and color is perfect! For many moons I have fought my attraction to these chairs (I think it was bacause they gave me flashbacks of going to school in MI in the 70s. These chairs were e.v.e.r.y.w.h.e.r.e!) But now I have accepted that I need at least 2 for our house – 1 with a rocker base for the living room and 1 to use as my desk chair.

  23. Are those you and max today at http://www.designsponge.com? Cool hat btw!

  24. I’m in the process of restoring an old upholstered fiberglass shell right now. I found that using an orbital sander works great for taking the adhesive off the inner surface of the chair. Much safer than a razor! Took about an hour to get the adhesive-covered surface all sanded off.

    • Good to know! BE SAFE though, any dust kicked up from the fiberglass can be really harsh on your lungs and itchy on your skin!

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