Charles & Ray Eames

Charles & Ray Eames

Husband & wife American Designers who made significant Historical Contributions to the development of Modern Architecture and Furniture. They also worked in the fields of Industrial & Graphic Design, Fine Art and film.

Charles was born in America in 1907, he studied Architecture on a Scholarship for two years. After two years Charles left the University. Many sources claim that was dismissed because of his “too modern views”

In 1938 Charles moved to Michigan to further Study where he taught and became the Head of The Industrial Design Department. Charles met Ray whilst attending the Cranbrook Academy of Art, Michigan. From the beginning of their collaborative partnership, they focused on creating multifunctional modern designs.

While at Cranbrook Charles collaborated with Eero Saarinen on a group of wood furniture designs that won the Museum of Modern Arts 1940 “Organic Design in Home Furnishings” competition.

Charles & Saarinen began experimenting with moulded plywood and even constructed a special machine, but it never produced satisfactory results. Due to production difficulties and the U.S Entry into the WWII, the chairs production was postponed. However, this work lead to Eames contribution to the war effort. Not limiting themselves to furniture, the Eames developed leg splints and stretches and were contracted by the U.S Navy to mass produce splints.  With the introduction of plywood splints, they were able to replace metal traction splints for injured servicemen, as well as aircraft components.

After the WWII Saarinen left the project due to frustration, however access to Military Technology and materials, provided the final step in the Eames successful attempt to create moulded plywood products. The first product was a simple plywood chair produced by the Herman Miller Company Known as the “ECW”. Amongst others, this chair is still in production today by Herman Miller in America and Vitra for the European Market.

After marrying Ray, the Eames moved to LA where they would work and live until their deaths. The Eames designed and built ground-breaking “Eames House” case study #8, as their home. It is located on a cliff overlooking the Pacific Ocean and hand constructed using material intended for Industrial Construction.

In 1950s’ Eames continued their work in plywood but also pioneered technologies such as fibreglass furniture, plastic resin chairs and wire mesh chairs for Herman Miller such as the “Eiffel Chair”, also still in production today. Ray was largely responsible for the graphic artwork of Eames. She also designed 26 covers for the Journals “Art & Architecture” from 1942 to 1948. Most of Eames fabrics used were in fact designed by Ray.

They Eames produced more than 120 short films and conducted a number of Exhibition’s from 1950 to 1982.

The office of Design of Charles and Ray Eames functioned for more than 4 decades. Among many important designs originating there is the DCW, DCM, Eames Lounge Chair, The Eames Chaise, The Aluminium Group furniture. At the time of Charles death in 1978 they were working on what became their last production, The Eames Sofa, which into production in 1984.

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