Charles and Ray Eames designed two new fiberglass chairs in 1961, this one, and a side chair. They set to work on this in response to a request from their friend Alexander Girard, who needed seating for his new restaurant, La Fonda Del Sol, in New York City’s Time Life Building. Girard asked for chairs with backs that would be no higher than dining table tops, so Charles and Ray made the backs of these lower than the backs of the first two Eames fiberglass chairs.
In addition to designing new shells, the Eameses developed new, solid cast aluminum bases. Previous Eames contract bases were made of two materials, steel and aluminum, in three parts. The “La Fonda” bases were sturdy, contract bases, that could be made in two steps, all of one material: aluminum.
Furthermore, Charles and Ray devised a new upholstery system for these chairs, with the exclusive Eames edge, made of solid rubber, which soon was offered on all Eames upholstered fiberglass chairs. For the restaurant the base was covered in a dark gray epoxy. Production examples sold by Herman Miller had polished aluminum bases.
The fiberglass shells used on these chairs were finished with a gel coat, so the fibers were much less visible than on the other Eames fiberglass chairs.
Photos shown above are of a vintage example in original, Charcoal Gray Naugahyde, courtesy of J.F. Chen, Copyright Eames Office, LLC.