A Chair Story - The Vitra Eames DSW Chair

One of the most recognisable pieces of furniture of 20th century design, what makes the Vitra Eames DSW so timeless?

Designed by Charles and Ray Eames in 1950, the Eames DSW Side Chair (also known as the “Eiffel Chair”) now symbolises everything we love about mid-century modern design. Contemporary, curvy and crafted - as so many of the Eames’s designs were - to fit the contours of the human form.

Originally designed for the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York’s Low Cost Furniture Design in collaboration with Zenith Plastics and was ground-breaking in that it was the first chair to use a single plastic shell (now made in more environmentally conscious polypropylene) in mass-production.

The D stands for dining chair, the S stands for side chair and the W refers to the wood of its legs.

Charles was a craftsman, an early technology fan and a play enthusiast (you can read more about play in design over in our write up of the 2022 3 Days Of Design Event in Copenhagen, where the theme is “remember to play”).

He collected toys, believing them to be a prelude to great ideas. Together with Ray’s artistic vision and approach, they created a chemistry that continues to live through the Eames legacy today.

The chair was immediately popular - it was highly functional, practical and easy to keep clean, and therefore was often used in public settings as well as the home.

According to Vitra:

Thus, this chair was at once highly ‘visible’ in design-conscious circles and yet somewhat ‘invisible’ in the ordinary world.”

Eventually the chair went out of production until it was relaunched in 1998 with shells made of polypropylene, and today are available as the Eames Plastic Chairs and Eames Fiberglass Chairs. Vitra operate a take-back programme to ensure proper recycling of the chairs at the end of their life cycle.

Interestingly, the Eameses' designed for themselves, without thinking of the mass market and that you had to design deeply for yourself to design for the other people who will be naturally like you.

Today, the Vitra Eames DSW Chair is one of the most iconic, coveted and copied chairs out there. We only sell the original Vitra Eames chair, made to the original 1950 design by Charles and Ray Eames. Today, the chair is made out of environmentally friendly materials with its distinctive spindly legs available in a range of finishes. 

It remains popular thanks to its functional design, high-levels of comfort and recognisable design that looks good in any kind of home. 

If you want a little bit of the Eameses’ magic, you can shop our collection of original Vitra Eames DSW Side Chairs in a range of sizes, fabrics and finishes.

For even more inspiration, view the full Vitra Collection.