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So I bought that old Aluminium Group lounge chair - Minimoma/Mark/tktoo...

- 19 Jun 2017 -
15 posts / 0 new

The fabric is worn where expected. It hasn't been mistreated, just sat in a lot over the last 50 years or so.

It seems like the fabric is glued to a substrate - probably vinyl? I don't think repair is an option.

The fabric on the back and underneath is of course in great condition.

I have a possibly silly question. Minimoma, you have one of these chairs, do you reckon it's possible to take the cover off and flip it? I suspect not.

Attached are a couple of pics.

I know you like to see photos of rooms, so also attached are some pics of where the chair will likely live for a while. This is our Airbnb pad. It's the top floor of an old bakery attached to our house (my wife's studio is downstairs). It's one room around 1,000 square feet. There is a bit of Herman Miller stuff there including 4 of the 8 yellow fibreglass chairs we've had since the 80s.

So I bought that old Aluminium Group lounge chair - Minimoma/Mark/tktoo...


- 19 Jun 2017

Nice Airbnb Scott.

Your chair does not look so bad, I have seen much worst & I have not tried nor seen others flip the upholstery on these chairs.

When I moved from Boston back to Los Angeles to save on transport/shipping costs, I dismantled the chair separating the upholstered part from the antler part & swivel base but keeping the aluminum sides frames intact with the upholstery. When I put the chair back together again, I realized how complex the design is, the way the upholstery is pulled tight & secured into the frame. Unless Herman Miller share some of their special tools, jigs or whatever they use to assemble this chair, I will never dismantle this chair ever again.

Do you have access to any of the recent Alexander Girard books to check confirm if the textile used in your chair is by him? If you determine that it is a Girard textile & it is not falling apart when someone sits on it, are you going to be content just cleaning it & leaving the chair alone as found? If not, you will need an upholsterer who is experienced in replacing & duplicating the exact details of the original upholstery.

Sorry if I could not be of much help, maybe you can try to contact HM to see if they have any repair recommendations? Or maybe draping a nice wool shag over the chair to protect the original upholstery?

- 19 Jun 2017

Thanks Minimoma,
The upholstery is not falling apart, just well worn.
Nobody down here would be experienced at reupholstering that chair because there would be hardly any here. It's not something anybody would have had to tackle.
Your statement that you will 'never dismantle this chair again' gives me pause for thought. Probably just as well. I need to find a completely ruined chair that I can experiment on.
I think I will give my chair a clean and a bit of a hand polish and lay a loose cover over the seat to stop it getting worse.

- 19 Jun 2017

I remember seeing this image in a book somewhere that shows some of the assembly details of this chair. It is more complex compared to the other Eames chair designs like those leather airport tandem seats originally commissioned for Saarinen's Dulles Airport (also by Eames & HM) that evolved from the Alum. Group design.

I have not seen any of those recent Girard books out there but able to reserve them from the local public library here, I will get back to you or post again if I recognize the textile that is in your chair.

The image that I added is from the recent Eames book by Vitra. The file size of the photo of the entire thing is too large to upload but you can see that tiny detail how the upholstery is secured into the alum. frame grooves by @ #16 brass ( something).

- 20 Jun 2017

Thanks Minimoma. If that comment of yours hadn't put the wind up me, those drawings certainly would have. I might have to try and find a completely buggered chair to pull apart as a test. I also have a soft pad on one of those awful 80s painted frames that I might pull apart and put on a polished aluminium one. That might be one to experiment on.

- 20 Jun 2017

Well, this could feed your fears or provide some useful information. Interesting anyhow.

This video is about the subject of authenticity, but about 6:00, you could catch a glimpse of the process involved in mounting the padding onto the frame.

Hope it helps.

Great finding anyway. And what a beautiful space you have there!

- 20 Jun 2017

Honey child!

What a lovely room! I would not do anything to that sweet chair. Nope. It works quite well in your room. I want to visit and sit on that gorgeous patina'd Girard textile. I have the perfect pair of pants in mind. This chair is not ready to be re-freshened.


Aunt Mark

ps yup.

- 20 Jun 2017

Well, i definitely think we could all use some reinforcement of our contemplation skills, versus our intervention impulses. I at least could.

Most of the time it´s a wise thing to let things sit for a while and wait for them to tell us what they have to say. And yes, that chair works effortlessly in that room as it is.

That said, and with no expertise to support my point, i think the flipping around of the padding could be viable. The seams and edges are all hidden so... An interesting thing to investigate.

- 21 Jun 2017

Thanks Sebastian, great video. And yes, you are right, sometimes intervention isn't the best course. I will keep my eye out for a badly damaged version of that chair, though, so I can pull one apart and report back.
Mark, if you ever decide to visit our more relaxed part of the world, give me a yell. Your chair (and many others) awaits.
We often have Americans come to stay - usually visiting their adult children who came down for a holiday and never went back home.
Most of the furniture and stuff in that big pad has a story behind it (except for the blue chairs that are nothing special and are on the way out the door). There is one chair in particular that has a great story. It is a square rocker just visible in a few of the photos. It's nothing special and is obviously hand/homemade and I guess sort of in an Arts and Crafts style. Definitely a one-off chair. I bought it about 20 years ago from a second hand store in The Blue Mountains about 2 hours drive west of Sydney. My grandmother, who was around 90 at the time, saw the chair and said, 'That's my chair.' I looked at her and said, 'You're not losing your marbles are you?' She ignored me and told me a story. During the second world war, three Japanese mini subs snuck into the harbour one night and caused a bit of a ruckus. My grandmother's family had a house up the mountains, so she took her kids (my dad being one of them) up there for a while thinking the war was getting a bit too close for comfort - around then, Bondi Beach even had barbed wire barriers across it to deter a boarding party (pretty dopey given Sydney has about 20 other beaches to choose from). In a corner of the sunroom of that house up in the mountains was that chair. My grandmother was positive it was the same one - she said she knew the marks on it. She sat in the chair with her eyes closed and told me she had spent months and months sitting in that chair everyday reading books and listening to the radio. I put the chair into her flat in Sydney for the remaining few years of her life.

- 21 Jun 2017

That's a great story Scott, thanks for sharing. This is the kind of stories that makes collecting/acquiring fun. Keep it up kind of like the Eameses work, playful but with rigor.

Going back to your chair, that textile might be one of the early Saran upholstery used in 1958 but I am still waiting for the Girard books to come back to confirm. Here is a close up of an early Saran from the JF Chen collection at the Eames Office archives.

Responding to your post also led me to meet another prominent Eames scholar, Daniel Ostroff, so thank you. When I bump into him again, I'll bring up the vintage Aussie lounge chair & see if he comments.

- 21 Jun 2017

Hello all,
Until approximately five years ago, we owned an aluminum group chair with contract base such as yours but with an ottoman and they were covered in the exact same material and in very good condition. We assumed it was reupholstered over the usual ribbed material for this model. I always felt but suppressed the urge to remove the fabric assuming problems underneath. We never researched the fabric.

My wife had bought the chair & ottoman at Brimfield, Mass., USA probably 15 - 20 years ago. We sold it, possibly on Craigslist, and delivered it to a young, Dutch, chap, who lived in a remote part of Brooklyn. He said he was going to live in Brazil and bringing the chair. We sold it because we no longer had room for it and I could never find compatible pants.

I swear to the truth of all the above.

- 21 Jun 2017

Just found pictures from May 2012. The material may be different after all. I remember being able to feel the usual the usual ribbed material under neath but I never saw it.

- 21 Jun 2017


And it has the higher back...and the matching ottoman.


Aunt Mark

- 21 Jun 2017

Charlie, I wonder if there is a thread on here from 5 years ago posted by a bloke from Brooklyn who tells the tale of getting a great chair on CL?
Here are some better photos of the fabric from the underside of the chair. There is no maker's stamp on the bottom of the antler, which is interesting. Could the stamp have been a slightly later thing?
The chair would have been brought here by an American. It was common in the 70s and 80s for American companies with outposts down here to send people on a tour of duty to run things and show the Aussies how everything should be done. Head office would send a VP or someone down and ship their furniture as well.
Also attached is a photo of the chair my grandmother swore had been hers.

- 22 Jun 2017

I dug out the pics from an old backup drive: they're from May 2012. Your fabric is somewhat different, more substantial. Ours was a sewn-in cover over the original ribbed covering so we assumed it had issues. If you look at one of my pictures you can see the weak impression of ribbing underneath. I now believe we sold it on ebay. The buyer was Dutch and headed for Brazil. He planned to take it with him.

Good luck in your investigation.

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