If you yearn to live in a house designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, you will want to know how to find furniture by Eames to furnish it. Known for their streamlined, modern and artistic furniture, Charles and Ray Eames designed innovate pieces still being manufactured, so you can buy the furniture new, or you can shop for vintage pieces. Several knock-offs, cheap and not so cheap, are out there, so shop wisely.
- Know the Eameses’ background. Charles Eames made his name in St. Louis and studied architecture in the city at Washington University. After marrying his first wife, he started an architectural firm and went to work at the Cranbrook Academy of Art in Michigan, where he developed the technique of wood molding that would become his trademark in furniture. Charles met his second wife Ray when she came to study at Cranbrook. Ray was an abstract artist who had studied and gained accolades in New York. They set up and maintained an office in Venice, California, where they made furniture, films, fabrics, and other types of artwork. Charles died August 21, 1978, and Ray died ten years later on the same day.
- Know a true Eames. To find furniture by Eames, know the innovate materials they used, such as fiberglass, plastic resin, and wire. They designed for Herman Miller, a company that still manufactures and sells their work today. To know if you have found a true Eames piece of furniture, first look for a signature on a paper sticker on the underside of the piece. The sticker usually contains both names, Charles Eames and Herman Miller. If you have a fiberglass chair, look for the company names of Zenith or Tigrette, who manufactured this timeless piece of furniture. Obviously, if the piece is supposed to be 30 to 50 years old, it should show signs of wear and age. A lot of Eames furniture exists because it was factory-made and sold worldwide so doing some research on indicators of the real thing is a necessity, and many websites and books exist with the needed information. Eamesgallery.com has a huge collection of photos that can also help with identification.
- Research prices and places. In order to find furniture by Eames, research both eamesoffice.com, a website run by Charles’ grandson, and hermanmiller.com, which has reliable information about the Eameses and their work. Eamescollector.com offers basic background information about the artists and an up-to-date look at their work selling on ebay. Touring the auctions is a great way to learn what is available and where and how much it is selling for.
- Check out auctions, flea markets, and other sales. One of the most enjoyable ways of finding furniture by Eames is to come upon it unaware, which is likely to happen if you frequent auctions, flea markets, and other business or home sales. Auctions might list Eames works for sale, but they may not know they have it. Get acquainted with some local auction houses and let them know what you are looking for, if you really don’t want to miss out. Eames furniture shows up in flea markets or in office sales or even at yard sales. Even if the buyers know what they are selling, you are more likely to get a good price from them than by buying through auctions or online sites.
- Get acquainted with online auctions. If for no other reason than for doing research on completed sales, you should sign up to receive newsletters and sale updates from some online auction houses. The old standbys Christie’s and Sotheby’s often have Eames furniture for sale, and both offer after-sale information so you can find out selling prices. At Sotheby’s website, you can do a keyword search to find Eames pieces. Wright Auctions and Art Auction are two online auctions selling artworks and artistic furniture. On these auctions, along with liveauctioneers.com, you can participate in real time. You can also join their email lists to be notified of upcoming auctions with specific items in them. These auction houses also have their catalogs online before a sale.