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E Charles & Ray


Charles & Ray Capturing the spirit and vision of artists/entrepreneurs Charles and Ray Eames is akin to grasping white-hot sparks. During their lives, which ended on Aug. 21, 1978, and Aug. 21, 1988, respectively, the Eameses impacted the global design community and mainstream culture with significant, award-winning contributions in architecture, film, furniture design and exhibitions.

The Eames Lounge Chair remains an icon of mid-century design, and was followed by three equally wellregarded generations of chairs. Eames tandem airport seating, fashioned out of their signature cast aluminum, is found all over the world. The Eames body of 154 movies—notably Powers of Ten— gave them another forum to express their ideas. Museums display their collections, and whole rooms from their former studio in Venice, Calif., are on display in three institutions.

The Eameses’ work includes a collection

of over 750,000 still photographs, slides and drawings at the Library of Congress in the Prints and Photographs Division, along with 160,000 items in the Manuscript Division. Further, the tentacles of their influence reached toys, clothing, magazine design, common household items, musical instruments, office accessories, fabric design and more. Charles, trained as an architect, and Ray, primarily a painter, lived to experience their work in myriad arenas.

Yet the husband-and-wife team’s singular approach to living their design is what really stands out. Each area of modern life they touched—no matter how far afield—was infused with the same philosophy, rooted in an unwavering belief: Everything is connected, from the tiniest line of a pencil marking to the biggest splash of ocean to a falling star. Charles would say, “Eventually everything connects—people, ideas, objects, etc. … the quality of the connections is the key to quality per se.”

In addition to the idea of connection, a guiding theme throughout the Eameses’ lives was the concept of guest and host. In designing a chair, for example, it was just as important to them to consider who will be sitting in it as it was to decide what kind of material to use. Their notion was that if both sides are considered, the product or environment will automatically improve.

Creating anything that is inspired by the Eames’ philosophy and work is more than a casual nod to Eamesian things such as furniture, painting and architecture. It means authenticity, utility, beauty and accessibility. Charles and Ray designed for everyone, not merely the high-end user.


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