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.
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:
4. Cute & colorful.
I don’t care that everyone and their mother has one. I love it. I love it so much.