I can't afford the licensed product at over €6,000 so what is the difference between the €600-€800 mid-priced options versus higher priced ones and how do I get the best value and quality?
Sounds familiar. Not surprising. We get asked this question at least 5 times a month.
We're going to completely ignore lounge chairs advertised at circa €500 or below as chances are you will be dealing with cheap ply, plastic parts, wrong angles, visible screws and PU leatherette so if you are looking for a decent piece of furniture, lets rule these out at the start.
Moving on then to mid-range prices for Eames Style Lounge Chairs (Price Bracket: €600-€850)
Mostly these will arrive semi-assembled with bases to be attached and sometimes you may also need to attach the back sections to the base (seat cushion section) and the armrests, depending on the supplier. Not an impossible job but it can be fiddly and armrests need to be attached with an allen key at an unusual angle. OK for the DIY enthusiasts, however, other aspects to watch for at this price point are as follows:
Usually the inside of the wood shells will be left unfinished and on the chair at the front, there are two small areas at each side of the seat cushion where this raw wood may be visible. It's just a finishing aspect but at this price point, every factory finishing option costs, so the more of these that are reduced, the cheaper they can retail the finished product.
The piping and buttons (the trim areas) may be in PU rather than full leather. Again, cheaper to manufacture with and they can still advertise it as 'full leather'.
The cushions will most likely be glued or screwed into the shells internally rather than attached with clips like the original and they will also usually be without any zip detail. Let's say the cat goes crazy and shreds a cushion, or a seat button comes off, then it's not an easy future swap or replacement. You will potentially need to strip the chair down to all of its component parts to get a cushion off or if it has been glued then it may be impossible.
The leather itself will most likely be a cheaper quality and even if advertised as leather, it will be the basic type.
The base may not be die-cast with individually adjustable feet, depending on the supplier.
The wood ply may be acceptable but will not be a drool finish. Overall, it will probably be 'an adequate' replica with that 'OK knock-off' attitude about it.
So, moving on to the higher end and looking at spending over €1000.
At this price level you rightly expect a damn good chair and stool. So, what does that extra spend normally give?
Firstly, the leather should be best quality, like full aniline, waxed aniline, nubuck or high quality corrected semi-aniline if you're after a more matt finish.
For the veneers, you will most likely get good wood cuts with consistency of pattern and depth. These will have had a lacquered finish to a smooth sheen that enhances the natural richness and grain of the woods.
The internal cushioning will be high density foam and the upholstery will be pulled over this in the correct way, to create that deep flowered look in the cushions in keeping with the design.
Cushions will be zipped and clipped onto the shells. These metal clips are at each corner of the inside of the shells and the underside of the cushions have pre-cut slots that clip on. The cushions will also have a breathable venting area on the underside, that gives it that 'whoosh' sound when you sink into the seat.
Overall, the aesthetic and finishing touches should be there - thickness of cushions, flowering detail and quality of leather, the wood finish, the quality of components, from the polished base and back braces to the ply layer edging around the cushions and unless you turn it upside down to look for a makers mark, then you should be hard-pushed to see differences between it and an original Eames lounge chair and ottoman.
It goes without saying that the matching ottoman stool should be included as part of the price and set and of the same quality as the chair.
So, there you have it. Go forth and shop....
Our range of lounge chairs can be viewed at: https://www.stil.ie/products/leather-lounge-chair-ottoman-inspired-by-eames
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