I love this photo, it’s of an Eames Fibreglass Chair and is a working model that Charles and Ray Eames kept on hand as part of their study collection. When it got a hole in its original green Naugahyde upholstery they had it patched with contrast electrical tape.
They didn’t throw it away, or get the whole chair reupholstered, they just patched it.
It doesn’t detract from the beauty of the chair, I think it enhances it, I wonder how it happened, there might be a good story behind that patch, it’s part of the chair’s narrative and of those who lived with it over the years.
In an interesting article by by Daniel Ostroff, film producer and editor of ‘An Eames Anthology’, he considers this patched chair and Ray and Charles Eames’ repair philosophy, “The design duo didn’t believe in throwing away things they liked. They believed in repairing goods and continuing to use them. He quotes Charles Eames towards the end of his life as having said it was always his dream to have “well-darned socks.”and links their approach to the Japanese aesthetic concept of wabi sabi, the idea of beauty that is “imperfect, impermanent, and incomplete”.
There is definitely a growing appreciation of the beauty of the imperfect, the celebration of how objects look after years of use, the value of repair in a world grappling with the need to consume less and appreciate what we have more.
I want to channel some of these ideas into how I approach refurbishment of my vintage furniture and have got some plans brewing, I’ll keep you posted..!
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Photo Credit: The Eames Foundation