The Eames

Lovers, collaborators, creators of the modern world.

Charles and Ray Eames were not only one of this century’s most creative power couples, they were the most creatively promiscuous. Together, they leapt from one project to another, transcending the rules of architecture, design, filmmaking and branding.

The husband and wife team created a diverse body of work, from their eponymous, modernist chairs and mid-century furniture to ingenious kids toys, experimental films and iconic Los Angeles buildings such as the Eames House and Entenza House in Pacific Palisades.

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The Eames approached problem solving as an adventure, radically combining work with play. The rigid titles of architect, painter or designer were not as important as being able to look at a problem with an open ‘beginners mind’. In the Eames’s worldview, everything was connected, if you looked closely enough. (Or far away enough, as demonstrated in their film, Powers of 10.)

“Eventually everything connects – people, ideas, objects… the quality of the connections is the key to quality per se… I don’t believe in this ‘gifted few’ concept, just in people doing things they are really interested in doing. They have a way of getting good at whatever it is.”Charles Eames.

The Eameses embraced their era’s (1950s-70s) visionary concept of modern design as an agent of social change, elevating it to a national agenda. Their evolution from furniture designers to cultural ambassadors demonstrated their boundless talents and the overlap of their interests with those of their country. In a rare period of shared objectives, the Eameses partnered with the US government and the country’s top businesses to lead the charge to modernize post-war America.

The Eameses were the Jay-Z and Beyonce of their time, mastering the art of branding and self-promotion long before they became 21st century buzzwords. Their work/play ethic was the centre of the Eames’s life – with typical days running from 9am to 10pm, and a full-time cook on staff so they could work and play without interruption. After Charles’s death in 1978, Ray devoted the rest of her life to archiving the vast body of work they had created, as well as communicating their ideas through talks and writing. Ray Eames died of cancer on 21 August 1988, ten years to the day after Charles.

Text by Howard Collinge- The Unique Creatures 


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