Sunday, July 24, 2016

Designer of the Month - Charles and Ray Eames

The first mood board in the new series - let me tell you about my favourite designer couple: Charles and Ray Eames. They worked together in a very exciting era what we call now Mid Century Modern. 
Charles, the St. Louis born architect met Ray, the abstract painter at the Cranbrook Academy of Art, where they became collegaues. They married in 1941 (by then Charles had divorced his first wife, the mother of his daughter) and moved to California. They had a busy and exciting life, but produced no children. and managed to maintain the marriage that survived Charles' numerous affairs. 'Anything I can do, Ray can do better.' - he said, whose proposal had been a line written to her on a notepaper. Notably Ray died ten years to the day after Charles. 
Interior Moodboard
Their life at Eames Office was dominated by design - let it be architecture, furniture, films, art, or even the way breakfast was served. They complemented and completed each other. The couple wanted to create "the best for the most for the least", and could boast with clients like IBM and Boeing. Their co-workers were also big names, like Harry Bertoia and John Neuhart. They even made Nikita Khrushchev cry in 1959, at the Moscow National Exhibition.
The moodboard above consists of their most famous creations. You can see the famous and extra comfortable Lounge Chair from 1956, originally designed for the Hermann Miller furniture company and named 670 and 671 together with the ottoman. Here you can see it in white leather with molded plywood, and in the left upper corner in red leather, with its back to us. The couple usually designed furniture that could be mass-produced and therefore were affordable, but this chair was and still is a luxurious piece. But quality comes at price.
The red molded plastic armchair is represented with a rocker base here, but is available with wooden and metal base. Originally it was intended to offer solution to the need of low-cost furniture in small spaces in the post-war era. 'We don't make art, we solve problems' - said Charles. The original material of the seat was polyester reinforced with fiberglass, and a year after the release it was introduced as an upholstered version, too.
You can see the Lounge Chair in black above (I love it in red, too!), and also the metal version in black. Its dining chair version can be seen in walnut. Ray loved experimenting with molded plywood designs, so no wonder he enthusiasm resulted in tables and folding screens (on the left) made using this technique.
Other famous designs are the Hang-It-All hooks (here in black), the molded plywood elephant, walnut stools, management chairs, desks and bookcases, sofas.
Their home and studio is one of the Case Study Houses, No. 8. Built in 1949 in LA, it was practically untouched after their deaths, and carries on their legacy.

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