Husband and wife, Charles & Ray Eames were the pioneers of modern furniture design for four decades.
This American couple created their own visual language and a revolution of form during the 40s. Together they had an incredible synergy and incomparable creativity. They literally changed the face of furniture, design and modern architecture with industrial textile and graphic design, fine art, and filmmaking. The couple had a profound impact on the visual character of everyday American life.
They were known as; The Architect and the Painter. Charles briefly studied architecture at Washington University in St-Louis. Many people speculate that the university kicked him out because his views and ideas were “too modern”. Charles’ field of expertise in the world of art was very large and diversified. He was always interested in documenting everything through the use of short films and exhibitions. His visual language was stronger than his voice and he would rather use imagery over written words to explain and express himself. Charles was also extremely interested in photography. When his father died, all his photography equipment was left to him. Charles started to read the instructions and taught himself all about the art of photography.
In 1940 Charles met Ray at Cranbrook Academy of Art and married her the following year. Ray was an artist, designer, painter and filmmaker herself. Both creative people, Ray was the artistic eye of the couple. She was the vision behind many distinctively iconic and classic Eames designs and products. She studied abstract expressionistic painting, and one of her paintings can still be admired at the Whitney Museum of American Art in New-York.
Ray was also a very organized person, in her own very interesting way. Through creating amazing collaged letters for Charles as well as colleagues and friends (above), her office became a collectors museum, filled with all sorts of little treasures. It is funny to see how radically different the couples workplace is their designs.
In the late 1940’s, Ray created several textiles designs. Her two most famous works are seen above; “Crosspatch” & “Sea Things.” They both received honourable mentions and have been re-issued by Maharan. Her artwork and prints were always simple, kind of childish and joyful but still sophisticated. She was really into using monochromatic and bold color palettes with the use of repetition and geometric forms such as diamonds and round shapes. Often, the prints were hand-drawn in an obvious way for an effortless, realistic and humanistic look. Textile was the perfect medium to add to the Eames collection.
Above is a bright, geometric, eye-catchy and colorful palette of TÉLIO fabrics similar to this Madmen era.
Today, people are still enjoying the sleek, sophisticated, stylish and functional designs of the Eames mid-century collection. I know that I am dreaming of one day owning their butterfly lounge chair seen above!
What about you? If you could own something from Eames, what would it be?