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Herman Miller upholstered DAX H-base

Product design
- 10 Nov 2017 -
11 posts / 0 new
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Product design

Hi Everyone,

I am new to this website following some research I have been doing into Eames shell chairs produced by Herman Miller. Clearly some highly knowledgeable folk in this community and I am excited to be a part of it!

I have recently acquired what I understand to be a DAX chair on a H-base presumably in near to original condition. The person I have bought it form states that it was used in a shop display and was gifted to them by a friend. Sadly they no longer have space for it.... all the better for me!

As you can see it is in a reasonable condition and I have no intention of removing the upholstery. Not knowing much about these chairs, I am curious to hear people's opinions on this one. I cannot pretend to be knowledgeable myself here, but from what I have read, the markings indicate it was manufactured in Cincinnati.

Does anyone have any particular knowledge regarding the upholstered versions of these chairs, particularly the edge trim? The advert for this chair say that the trim is leather, but as you can see from the photos, it is a tan brown/white gradient effect. I am yet to collect the chair so I have not seen it in person. Would I be right in thinking this is a plastic trim painted to look like leather? Was this a common treatment found on these chairs? All the pictures I have seen of similar chairs seem to have a solid single colour... .

The only slight negative I can see is the three holes in the base, but I figure that's rarely going to be seen so what the heck.

I would love hear what you all think. Good or bad. Any tips on cleaning up the rust marks on the base and cleaning/polishing up the fibreglass would be much appreciated.

Herman Miller upholstered DAX H-base
United Kingdom
chairs & stools


- 14 Nov 2017

Maybe because no one here wants to sound discouraging. It's not you, don't worry.

- 14 Nov 2017

OK, you're anxious. Not an expert on these, but here's what I do know:

Good news: It's an authentic HM chair as you have already discovered.

Bad news: It's a later edition that's not rare, particularly desirable or valuable, and it's in poor condition.

Curious: The edge molding is plastic and appears to have been spray-painted brown on one side. I've never seen this on another HM chair.

Overall: Investment required to properly restore would exceed restored value.

- 14 Nov 2017

Thanks for the replies tktoo. I thought the edge trim was curious too. Surely not a custom job?

Did HM run these until relatively recently then? I was thinking... maybe 70's? 80's?

- 14 Nov 2017

I don't know a lot about Eames because they're not in my little sphere of interests (not that I don't appreciate them, it's just that there are only so many hours in a day).

But ok. Here's what I do know after 5-10 minutes of hunting around online.

That's an H-base chair. What that means in terms of value or desirableness, I have no idea. (Tip: asking prices mean little. You need to find out what stuff actually sold for to know what the market value is.)

The holes are original. Probably for letting air escape when the foam is compressed, which matters more with leather or vinyl upholstery.

You don't have any detail photos of the color change of the trim, but by right-clicking on the photos and selecting "view image in new tab" and then zooming in, I found one that shows it (below). And I have no idea what that is. It looks too evenly done to be painted that way and I don't think they did that kind of thing anyway. Maybe it has darkened from light exposure? Who knows. Weird. Definitely has a vinyl look on the backside.

What's going on with the upholstery? It looks like it has lost its adherence to the foam and is sagging. Is the foam hard and crunchy when you press a finger into it? If so, there's no way to restore that. It's just what happens to latex foam after a few decades.

There is a ton of info on this board and online in general about how to clean and restore fiberglass shell chairs. I came across one site that sells kits in my brief general search so there are probably more of those around. There a lot on how to deal with pitted chrome here, too. I generally just go over chrome with #0000 steel wool and a lot of oil or other lube to prevent scratching, then wipe down thoroughly. The pits will always be there but you can get rid of the rusty bloom that way. It'll eventually need to be done again but it's quick and easy to do.

- 14 Nov 2017

...annnnd no edit button for me, either. I meant to say that I don't know much about Eames *shell* chairs.

- 14 Nov 2017

Sounds about right. These were typically institutional/commercial contract orders.

Generally speaking, the non-upholstered/not drilled versions of these are the more collectible. The earlier and/or rarer color, the better. And, of course, condition is important.

- 14 Nov 2017

As pointed out above, your chair is the contract version. I have only seen these with the black (dark tone) or the griege ( light tone) plastic edges which matches or coordinates with the other HM office/contract furniture like the Eames segmented tables & the modular Action Office 1 & 2.

The plain weave textile & vinyl by Alexander Girard are more common, the examples with the bolder patterns are most likely custom ordered and not as common.

Most of the examples I acquired in the past in the dark blue plain weave textile with either plastic trim came from an IBM facility/office from all over the USA.

I have seen examples of the tandem airport seating that were originally used in a Braniff Airlines passenger waiting area which are probably more desirable than the IBM examples.

- 15 Nov 2017

Sometimes whilst buzzed, I deep think a tandem version (actually 2) of these...properly spaced between an old pool table with a dark history. The pool table should have a stain. The textile should be mixed*. I'm in therapy.


Aunt Mark

* perhaps vintage Herman Miller vinyl with a few scars would be better. All in a medium neutral blue (boring for commercial application, plus "patina", from many years of tender usage... Or not.


- 15 Nov 2017

Thanks for the comments everyone.

So were the commercial contract versions a different spec in terms of the upholstery and trim colour etc? That's what I'm understanding from everyone's comments.

I'm thinking perhaps the London department sore, where it is claimed to originate from, had them specified to their own requirements? I hear what you are saying Spanky about fading due to light exposure but it just seems too dark and too even to me.

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