The Eames molded plastic chair began as an entry in the Museum of Modern Art’s International Low-Cost Furniture Competition. Originally conceived in stamped metal, the entry marked a stop along the journey Charles and Ray Eames undertook to achieve a chair in a single form.
After taking second place in the competition, Charles and Ray remained committed to the form of their design, but continued to investigate other materials. They landed on plastic, which required fiberglass for reinforcement, since without it the plastic of the late 1940s wasn’t strong enough for the single-piece design. While not ideal, the Eames accepted the visible surface fibers as an honest constraint of the material.
They continued their journey. By the early 1970s, plastics had evolved to allow the solid, uniform, matte finish Charles and Ray originally envisioned. When a sustainable polypropylene became available, that was embraced too. As a result, only the Eames molded plastic chairs sold by Herman Miller are approved by the Eames Office and Eames family heirs as an authentic design.