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Eames Aluminum group chair. Curious find. 80's,90's?

Product design
- 03 Nov 2017 -
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Product design

Hello everyone,

I´ve made quite an interesting find these days. A couple of Aluminum chairs, sold for almost nothing. What interested me at first was the fact that being that cheap, I could use one to disassemble and investigate them a little. And see if I could manage to reupholster one, given that everybody says they are quite unique in that aspect. Strangely, after removing dirt, they turned out to be in very good shape in regards to finish and upholstery, but were in a pretty bad condition structurally.

They came with very uncommon upholstery. As I discovered later the chairs belonged to Northern Telecom of Argentina, so I guess it is a custom made fabric or at least a corporative choice. Although I sensed a kind of 80´s bus seat vibe at first, i ended up liking it a lot. So I decided to keep it. I am still dismantling it out of curiosity.

It is actually the first time I see one of these in person, so my first question is: Do you think they are original, Herman Miller pieces? I assumed that coming from such a big company as Northern Telecom they would be. Herman Miller had, and still has, a distributor here in Buenos Aires: Colección Herman Milller. There are no labels or marks in the aluminum frame.

Eames Aluminum group chair. Curious find. 80's,90's?
chairs & stools
1980 - 1989


- 03 Nov 2017

Screws were a mess, some missing, some changed, some not actually fitting at all, which explained how crooked one was. I can tell though, that the chairs are the version with headless Allen bolts holding the backrest stretcher.

Casters were, in my opinion, replaced at some point. They were different in both chair, of very low quality and some already broken. They are meant to be screwed and not slipped, but I don’t know if that means anything. As you can see the thread has been repaired in some of the feet.

I am puzzled by the roughness of the surface in some parts. I know those are the ones to remain unseen once the chair is assembled, but I wondered if that was a sign of poorer quality or was a normal feature.

I would appreciate your comments and thoughts. Thanks in advance.

- 03 Nov 2017

Looks authentic Herman Miller to me.

- 04 Nov 2017

Thank you so much for the reassurance Tktoo. I needed it, since this is pretty far from my comfort zone. Very nice challenge though, I must say, and very rewarding one so far.

I have already disassembled it almost completely, cleaned the upholstery, retouched and polished the black coating, and managed to reassemble it again.

It is quite a different experience but I didn´t find it as ‘next to impossible’ as I dreaded from the usual comments about it. I was lucky, I guess, since the chair turned out to be in much better condition than I expected, and I could keep the original upholstery. The tension in it is now pretty good.

There is some kind of a struggle to get it in position, and it is true that one could use a third or fourth hand at times. But it is completely doable.

Next step: Second chair, and new castors for both.

- 04 Nov 2017

Nicely done, sebastian. The color-coated versions of these are typically considered less desirable, but yours offers a nice change from the usual and looks entirely appropriate in that fabric.

- 08 Nov 2017

Thanks Tktoo, you are so kind.

I totally agree with you. The black coating goes perfectly with that fabric. I understand why they could be considered less desirable, but if we were to speak in subjective terms, I think of them as specially valuable. For exactly the reason you gave in your last sentence.
Of course it has also to do with the fact that it was my first time with one of these, and the challenge it presented to me had very satisfactory results.

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