Older readers will remember how last year one of the Vitra Senior Manager's quoted from this blog in his pre-fair pep talk to the assembled Team Vitra. Having reached the zenith of our careers we contemplated retiring. Fortunately we didn't. For at Milan 2014...
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Does the EA 119 come with a warranty from the manufacturer?
Yes. Vitra offers a warranty of 30 years on parts for the Aluminium Chairs and Soft Pad collections which are not normally liable to mechanical wear.
Can the covers be changed?
With the Aluminium Chair and Soft Pad Groups only the complete seat element can be replaced, a re-covering is not possible. The replacement can be undertaken by any trained Vitra service partner.
How much weight can the Vitra EA 119 chair support?
The chairs are tested to 110 kg. If the user is heavier, the wear on the joints and supports increases. However not only the user's weight plays a major role in the wear and tear of the chair. Sitting habits are also important: If, for example, you regularly drops heavily into the chair, swing backwards on the back feet and/or use the armrests to stabilise yourself when getting in and/or out of the chairr this can be greater burden than one static, if heavier, user.
Created in 1958 as part of a whole series - the Aluminium Group - Charles and Ray Eames re-defined with the EA 119, as with their previous designs, traditional concepts and understandings of form, material and construction. After their pioneering work in the field of plywood and plastic processing their intention with the Aluminium Chairs was the creation of the first contemporary outdoor chairs. The background was Eero Saarinen and Alexander Girard's search for suitable furniture for the garden of a house they had built for Irwin Miller. In his earlier works Charles Eames had already gathered experience with metal, the best example probably being the 1951 Wire Chairs, and was also familiar with the concept of anatomically shaped seat shells. Being as they were and are de rigueur in the Eames design canon. The major innovation with the Eames Aluminium Chairs was the principle of the stretching the fabric, by means of which the chair gets its characteristic flexibility. The elastic fabric web is stretched in double T carrier and stabilises the structure by virtue of a rail in the backrest. The Eames EA 119 is located on a swivel five foot base with wheels and as with every Vitra Eames Aluminium Chair he also has the typical filigree silhouette. Despite their minimal design language the Aluminium Chairs provide maximum comfort. In addition with their castors, individual height adjustment mechanism and reclining functions models such as the Vitra EA 119 or EA 117 are especially adapted to use as an office chair. And for those quieter, private moments, there are lounge models such as the EA 116 or EA 124.
Since aluminium has a high load carrying capacity, but also lightness, good formability and corrosion resistance, it became the material of choice for the Eames Aluminium Chair collection. Only through this material was the accentuated curves and stable, ergonomic design and outdoor use of EA 119 and the other chairs in the Aluminium Group possible. The original weather-resistant, heat-sealed synthetic leather fabric "Koroseal" or "Naugahide" has now been replaced by the fabric "Hopsak" and genuine leather - thus meaning the EA 119 and its relatives are no longer suitable for use outdoors. However in terms of the design nothing has changed and the aluminium Chair collection has now been manufactured for over 50 years in the same way and the same consistently high quality. In Europe this is done, as with all Eames designs, by Vitra, a contemporary furniture manufacturer with headquarters and production facilities in Biersfelden, Switzerland and Weil am Rhein, Germany. as a manufacturer Vitra doesn't just guarantee the quality of the Aluminium Chiars with its name and long tradition, but also with a 30-year warranty.
Charles and Ray Eames count amongst the most important designers of modernity. Charles Eames, born in St. Louis, Missouri in 1907 and Ray Kaiser, Sacramento, California in 1912, met in 1940 at the Cranbrook Academy of Arts where Charles Eames and Eero Saarinnen were preparing their entry for the "Organic Design in Home Furnishings" competition, endeavours in which Ray assisted them. Some eighteen years later this same constellation led, more or less, to the development of Vitra EA Chairs: it was Eero Saarinen who sought a chair for an architectural project, and asked his friend Charles Eames if he had any ideas. The result was the Aluminium Chair. Although Charles Eames was responsible for the construction of the furniture designs, all designs come officially from Charles & Ray Eames. In their studio in Los Angeles the pair realised a vast portfolio of projects that ranges from the famous Eames Chairs over films, photographs, textiles and toys to architectural works and exhibition design. A portfolio that has rightly seen them as two of the most important protagonists in in design history. Charles Eames died on August 21, 1978, whereupon Ray Eames closed the Eames Studio. 10 years to the day later, on August 21 1988, Ray Eames died in California.
The emergence of the Eames Aluminium Chairs came at a time of extreme change. Following World War II American society experienced years of prosperity, technological revolutions and innovations in popular culture. In connection with new production techniques much was suddenly affordable for broad strata of the population and consumption quickly established itself as a central element of post-war American society. The designers Charles and Ray Eames responded to these developments by exploring new methods and processes in furniture production furniture design and so offering consumers products that reflected the flexibility of modern living. Formally, the so-called second modernity is based on style from the beginning of the century and so comes as no surprise that the cool aluminium frame and balanced, minimal form of EA 119 and the other aluminium chairs reflects the classic steel tube furniture of the Bauhaus.
Produced in the United States since the 1940s by Herman Miller, the production of Eames' furniture in Europe begins in 1957 through Vitra. As such the company is in many ways the guardian of the Eames legacy. Vitra founder Willi Fehlbaum spotted an Eames chair on a trip to the USA in a shop window, and was so impressed he acquired the licenses for production in Europe, As a result, there arose many encounters between Willi and Erika Fehlbaum, their son Rolf and Charles and Ray Eames. The years of close co-operation still dominate the business philosophy at Vitra, for all the core decision-making process: "What would Charles and Ray that?". Due to this close relationship the largest part of the Eames estate came into the possession Vitra upon Ray Eames death. From the firms original base in Biersfelden, Switzerland Vitra moved the 7 kilometres , and across, located the German border to Weil am Rhein Vitra. In addition to the production facilities the so-called Vitra Campus in Weil am Rhein hosts numerous buildings by Pritzker Prize winners, including the VitraHaus by Herzog & de Meuron and the Vitra Design Museum by Frank Gehry. In addition to Charles and Ray Eames Vitra have and continue to Vitra work with designers like Verner Panton, Jean Prouvé, Marten van Severen and Antonio Citterio.
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