Eames Expert Insights: Mastering the Art of Vintage Eames Furniture Acquisition

by J. Parker

Introducing the Collector's Guide "An Eames of your own"

The Eames Institute of Infinite Curiosity recently released "An Eames of Your Own," a detailed guide to purchasing vintage Eames furniture and artifacts and building your own collection. The publication draws on the expertise of film producer Daniel Ostroff, also a long-time Eames devotee and head of acquisitions and research at the Eames Institute. The catalog includes advice on how to distinguish fakes, store pieces to ensure their longevity, avoid replicas, and more.

"Whether they were designed five or fifty years ago, Eames designs remain as beautiful and useful as ever. Few designs have withstood the test of time as well as Eames furniture. Because the purchase of "However, while vintage pieces are often a mystery, the institute's in-house expert explains what to look out for - and what to avoid," says the Eames Institute team.


The fascination of Eames furniture

Eames furniture is no longer just simple furnishings - they are works of art that combine aesthetics and functionality in a unique way. Both mid-century modern enthusiasts and design aficionados delight in its timeless appeal. The fascination goes beyond mere possession; it's about appreciating the beauty that comes with the passage of time. While vintage Eames furniture can fetch high prices, there are still ways to build an impressive collection without falling into the trap of counterfeits or replicas.


The New Era of Accessibility

In the universe of the used furniture market, platforms such as “Kleinanzeigen” (german platform, formerly “Ebay Kleinanzeigen”) and the Facebook Marketplace have heralded a revolution. These digital treasure troves enable enthusiasts to discover and acquire coveted vintage furniture. They offer easy access to unique pieces that have history and character without breaking the bank.


Authenticity in the jungle of Eames furniture

The challenge of distinguishing between authenticity and counterfeit becomes particularly evident when you deviate from official dealers - especially when it comes to sought-after vintage Eames furniture. Here we enter the labyrinth of Eames furniture, which presents us with a complex puzzle. A drastic example is the Eames Lounge Chair, a timeless masterpiece that has unfortunately fallen victim to numerous reproductions and counterfeits. This iconic work of art, designed by Ray and Charles Eames almost seven decades ago, has been copied countless times, tarnishing the authenticity of the real collectibles.

Eames chairs
All illustrations by Catherine Potvin, Courtesy of Eames Institute of Infinite Curiosity .


Eames furniture in the focus of mid-century modernism

At the heart of this phenomenon lies the burgeoning interest in mid-century design that fuels the enduring fascination with Eames pieces. The Eames Institute of Infinite Curiosity, a nonprofit organization dedicated to uncovering the stories of Ray and Charles Eames, highlights the growing enthusiasm for mid-century modernism. This is an area where Eames designs play a central role, representing impeccable taste and timeless appeal that can be seamlessly integrated into a variety of interior aesthetics.


The search for authenticity in a reproductive world

The hunt for vintage Eames pieces outshines the appeal of contemporary alternatives, attracting passionate enthusiasts who appreciate the core of history contained within these collectibles. Nevertheless, the search for real treasures turns out to be a challenging journey - and that is by no means an exaggeration.




Insight into the mind of the expert: insights by Daniel Ostroff

Daniel Ostroff, Head of Acquisitions and Research at the Eames Institute, shares valuable insight for aspiring Eames furniture collectors. It provides a comprehensive framework for evaluating Eames furniture. This includes four key factors: designer, design, technique and specimen. The Eames' reputation, a piece's iconic status, applied technique and unique characteristics all contribute to the overall value.


Tips for aspiring collectors

  1. Get to know the story: Look beyond the aesthetics and really understand and be aware of the history of each piece.
  2. Preserve Patina: Preserve authenticity by preserving patina and character. This also means making sure that original spare parts are used.
  3. Consider context: Don't just fixate on early versions, but consider the ongoing evolution of designs. This is particularly important when looking for new vintage Eames furniture and evaluating the price accordingly.
  4. Check authenticity: Pay attention to the smallest, fine details: What is the condition of the screws? What color are the screws? What do the hinges or chair legs look like? An important tip is to also use UV light with Eames models made of plastic and, if possible, to compare them with real models.
  5. Quench your thirst for knowledge: Educate yourself through Eames literature such as books (Book recommendation: Eames by TASCHEN), magazines, and old periodicals to develop a deep understanding.





Final Thoughts

Daniel Ostroff's insights transform collecting vintage Eames furniture into a fulfilling journey. By understanding design, history and authenticity, you can curate a meaningful collection that reflects the timeless brilliance of Eames designs. Eames furniture is more than just objects; they are an expression of taste and passion for exceptional design.




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