Charles and Ray Eames
In this article I will meet you with Charles and Ray Eames, who gave shape to America’s twentieth century. Charles and Ray Eames practiced design at its most virtuous and expansive way. Their furniture, toys, buildings, films, exhibitions and books all aimed to improve society functionally, culturally and intellectually.
Charles and ray Eames practiced in the era when “what was good for the General Motors was good for the country.” They worked for corporate giants as Westinghous, Boeing, and Polaroid. For IBM, film, books, new media techniques.
Charles and Ray Eames were both of their time and ahead of it. Their marriage was one of creative talents as well as traditional domesticity.
The work of Charles and Ray Eames: A legacy of Invention, captures the essence of the Eameses’ creativity. So writing about Charles and Ray Eames, we definitely need to go through this collection of essays. For me it was exciting experience to learn about the way they saw the world, the design process they used, and the qualities they valued.
Charles and Ray Eames notion was that modern industry should get “the most of the best to the greatest number of people for the least” and according to J.Billington, that philosophy places them firmly in the tradition of American innovation.
The World War 2 provided new opportunities for collaboration of art and industry. Especially for the Eameses. They were designing and manufacturing molded – plywood aircraft parts, leg splints and litters for the federal government and the city’s aviation industry. These partnerships gave them access to funding and materials that would otherwise not have been available for civilian pursuits.
Experiments with new molded-plywood techniques ultimately led to the design and manufacture of a line of chairs, tables, and screens that answered America’s postwar demands for more flexible and casual ways of living.
LCM chair, 1946
Stack of fiberglass -reinforced plastic chairs, 1954 dining armchair 1950
Lounge chair and ottoman, 1958
The influence of Eameses also change the way the 20th century lived. The Eameses’ steel and glass house used standardized construction elements out of trade catalogs – some adapted from wartime use, intended to serve as a model of low-cost, do it yourself modern design.
Ray Eames: cover for arts & architecture, April 1942
Eames House, Santa Monica, California, 1949
Reflections of trees on the glass facade of the Eames house, photographed by Charles.
Ray and Charles in their living room, 1958
Eamesoffice – Charles-and Ray Eames are among the most important American designers of this century. They are best known for their groundbreaking contributions to architecture, furniture design, industrial design, manufacturing, and the photographic arts, but except all that they made over 100 short films ranging from 1-30 minutes in length. One of them, named “Tops” we watched in Alan Powers lecture and I can honestly say that this movie exceed all my expectations for film-making technology of its time.
Production still from the film, Tops [ca. 1969]
Film, Tops and Bread, 1953
Filming Toccata for Toy Trains, 1957
Charles and Ray with toy collection in Eames Office
To finish my article I can only say that Charles and Ray Eames belong to the twentieth century, but their legacy will endure long into the future.
1. “The work of Charles and Ray Eames – a legacy of invention ” essays by Donald Albrecht, 2005
2. Eames, Charles, :Furniture from the design collection, the Museum of Modern Art, New York
3. Alan Powers lecture