The Tale of the Charles Eames & Alexander Girard’s “La Fonda” Fiberglass Rocker
Featured this month in Architectural Digest is the newly-restored Steinman House built by architects Craig Ellwood and Jerold Lomax in 1956. This amazing mid-century gem is filled with original pieces by George Nelson, Isamu Noguchi, Arne Jacobsen, Charles and Ray Eames and Van Keppel Green. Modernica’s contribution to this home’s extensive collection appears in the children’s room — the “La Fonda” Rocker.
The “La Fonda” Chair was originally designed for the interior of the legendary restaurant “La Fonda del Sol” located in the Time-Life Building in New York City. In 1961, designer Alexander Girard was commissioned to design the interior of this new restaurant. He worked closely with the Eames Office to develop the dining room’s seating. Mr. Girard wanted chairs with certain characteristics. His thoughts were the bases should harmonize with the rest of the interior, and the height of the backrests should correspond to the height of the tables. The Eames Office developed the “La Fonda” Chair based on his criteria and shortly after the restaurant’s debut, the chairs went into mass production at Century Plastics.
The “La Fonda” chair had an upholstered fiberglass shell that was mounted on a two-piece cast aluminum base. While the shell is clearly recognizable as a variation of the Eames fiberglass arm shell chair — the newly-designed base had four parallel shafts that merged into a four-star base. Now, what makes the rocker chair featured in Architectural Digest so significant is it is not upholstered, nor does it have the four-star base.
When Century Plastics closed, this rare version of the “La Fonda” chair was discovered by Frank Novak in the factory archives. These buttermilk-colored shells were production samples that were neither upholstered, nor had they been drilled for the 4-star base — making it possible to place shock-mounts for a rocker base. Each shell has interesting irregularities within the fiberglass, making it truly a one-of-a-kind piece.
Modernica is offering these rare “La Fonda” Vintage Fiberglass Shell chairs for $495 each, on any rocker base of your choice.
All shells are original vintage from Century Plastic and all rocker bases are Case Study bases from Modernica. “La Fonda” Vintage Fiberglass Shell Chairs are only available through our Los Angeles Showroom. Please contact them at 323-933-0383 or at lashowroom.net. “La Fonda” Shells are available in other Case Study base options, prices may vary. Please contact our sales staff with any questions.