BATTLE OF THE MID CENTURY MODERN CHAIRS.

Glenfiddich has a bottle of whisky that sells for  $94,000 a bottle.  So obviously it isn’t the best you can buy.  It’s one of the best but not the best.  That’s assuming in the world of whisky you equate cost with quality.  In case you’re running out to pick up a few things this afternoon and you’re curious about it, it’s called Janet Sheed Roberts Reserve, 1955 and even though you think it might, Walmart doesn’t carry it.

Apparently it has flavour notes of Orange blossom and violets folded into toasted almonds with a modicum of smoke. At $94,000 for a bottle of this Scottish whisky I’m going to leap, skip and jump to the assumption that it also comes with an orange grove, violet field, almond plantation,  castle containing several smokey fireplaces and of course … Sean Connery.  Even though he’s like 90.

I drink the odd bit of whisky but I don’t need to drink a $94,000 bottle of it.  I can’t afford the best and honestly, I’m sure I wouldn’t appreciate it.  I’ll leave the best whiskys for those who are far superior drunks than I am.

I also don’t believe in buying the “best” when it comes to all my furniture, clothes or even my food.  My couch is a piece of crap, but it has half decent style and it’s lasted 10 years so far.  I buy 85% of my clothing in stores that have shopping carts (not something you typically see in Gucci or Chanel) but it all has good style.  I don’t buy high end milk, hipster protein bars and I like a lot of store brand products that are copies of originals.  Like store brand Windex, or fake Magic Erasers.  They’re half the price and work just fine for me.

But sometimes, the odd time, you really are better off buying something that is the best. The original.  You might not be able to buy it right away, you might have to save for it and make due for a decade, but eventually buying the best, the original, is the right decision.

What I’m about to tell you about, isn’t one of those times.

I’ve loved the iconic Eames lounge chair since I saw it sitting in Frasier’s apartment in 1993.

It’s an original.  The Eames chair is one of those classic Mid Century Modern pieces that every hipster seems to think they need to own (or at least a copy of it).  I also really like non-iconic Mid Century Modern chairs because they’re a little bit cheaper than the the most popular pieces and a bit less … I don’t know … desperate?

The problem is, those iconic pieces are usually iconic for a reason.  The womb chair for instance is supposed to be the most comfortable chair in the world.  But I’m so sick of looking at it in every magazine, commercial and blog I don’t think I want one.

 

And the Papa Bear chair is also an iconic original that’s supposed to be unbelievably comfortable, but it’s just too big for my space.  I’ve seen and sat in an original Papa Bear Chair and I even felt like the back was a little bit hard.

 

Funny eh?  The Papa Bear chair was just too hard.  And a lot of the other chairs I’ve seen just aren’t fitting the bill for some reason.

What I’m actually looking for is a chair to go in my living room beside my fireplace that won’t take up a huge amount of space, isn’t $5,000 and carries over some of the Mid Century Modern from my foyer into my living room. Which leads me back to the Eames Lounger.  Even though I like it, it has a footstool.  Even though I like it, it’s $5,000.

 

But, BUT this story gets even more interesting.  In the 60s’,  furniture company Plycraft started knocking off the Eames lounge chair.  In fact, their knock off designer, George Muhlhouser ended up making a name for himself with beautifully designed chairs of his own.  His Mr. Chair was every bit as beautiful as the more celebrated chairs of his contemporaries.

But again, to be truly comfortable it has to be used with its footstool which I just don’t have the room for.

 

All this obsessive research into chairs led me to this … the Plycraft knockoff of the Eames lounge chair as designed by George Muhlhouser.

It’s not quite as nicely proportioned as the Eames version. And the bent plywood shows the screws holding it together, as opposed to the Eames which has all hardware hidden.

But this copy has something that the original never had.  It’s a recliner.

It has a space saving, BUILT IN FOOTREST.

 

Which of course eliminates any need for a footstool, making this Eames copy in my opinion, better than the original.  For my purposes anyway.  It swivels, reclines and … reclines some more.

Muhlhouser also made a more straight forward knock off of the Eames chair that included a regular chair and traditional footstool but this version with the built in footstool is perfect.  For me.

So …

Feel free to keep your eye out for me.  I know a LOT of you did that when you knew I was looking for a tulip table but this … this is far more elusive than the tulip table because they’re much rarer.  The reason for that is this is a vintage knock off chair I’m looking for.  And believe it or not no one made a knock off of this knock off, so there are only the few originals that were made decades ago out there on the loose.  No one has manufactured it or copied it since the 70’s.

And even better, even though some high end sites like 1stDibs or Chairish sell it for over $1,000 when they get one, most people on Kijiji or Ebay sell them for around $450.

That allows money leftover to buy lots and lots of books for when I’m reclining in my reading chair with a glass of … a good, but not the best, bottle of whisky.

Have a good weekend!

 

 

93 Comments

  1. Rose Dracarys says:

    Interestingly, the Plycraft is the original design first dating to 1923. The truth is Eames knocked it off in 1955. Check your labels.

  2. Rose Dracarys says:

    The Plycraft is the original design first dating to 1923. The truth is Eames knocked it off in 1955. Boom.

  3. Hugo Hernandez says:

    Just wanted to post another pic of Plycraft Recliner. Boy when I think about it, not only did I pay top dollar, I got a guy who excels in MCM restore etc… in Chicago! He re-stuffed the cushions and worked out the kinks in the hardware. I think Ill be buried in it.

  4. Hugo Hernandez says:

    Hi Eric and Karen and Nicole! I think the padding wore out on your chairs as far as the arms are concerned. Or I could be wrong! Maybe it was a later version, If I could only find the old website that was devoted to G Mulhauser. I have the recliner as well, minty mint as mint can be for something that old. I bought it for my partner March 2014 in Chicago at a little antique shop. It was NOT 450.00 LOL. It was just over 1640.00. Its gorgeous and although my partner isn’t wild about it, its a keeper.

  5. Nicole says:

    I love your blog Karen! And I do understand the art of the “ hunt”! 😂

    I have an Eames knockoff with the built in footrest recliner.

    Curiosity has gotten the best of me for 4 years as I’ve had it protected in my laundry room. It needs a little work on the mechanics as it leans forward a bit, thus leaving the footrest on the ground. I dare not recline it or sit in it until I “fix it”. 😂 I also have two rescue dogs who are now approaching their sunset years, but that is one reason I have not attempted to resolve the problem. They would love this chair and I couldn’t bear it to be scratched!

    As you can see from the photo, the armrests are walnut/teal and are not covered in any fabric.

    Have you seen one like this before or know why this chair is different in this way?

    The thought of selling it hits me in my gut, especially for the money that won’t be there in 10 years, like the chair.

    I have many other prized “projects”, including reupholstering two Hollywood daybed sofas and a rare Stanley Theme II armoire that is being stripped from 3 coats of latex paint! 🤮

    I know this post is a couple of years old, but I hope someone sees it and can give me insight.

    You are hilarious and enjoy your writing so very much! Not to mention your exquisite taste! ❤️

    • Karen says:

      Hey Nicole. Great score! I don’t think I have seen one with wood arms like that. I wonder if the padding and leather has just been removed?? Weird. ~ karen!

    • Eric says:

      Hi Nicole-
      I actually have the exact same chair without the padding on the arms and have been thinking about selling it, but just not sure I actually want to since it’s so rare. Glad to see yours with the wood arms too though as I’ve never seen another one before.

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