Saturday, November 19, 2011

Charles and Ray Eames

Charles Eames Jr. and Bernice Alexandra "Ray" Eames were American designers who majorly contributed to the field of modern architecture and furniture. This husband and wife duo also made great strides in the areas of industrial and graphic design, fine art and film.

At the age of 14 Charles Eames began to learn about engineering, drawing and architecture as he worked part-time at the Laclede Steel Company in St. Louis, Missouri. After graduating from high school, Eames focused on architectural studies at Washington University but was dismissed or dropped out shortly after. As a result, this up and coming designer opened his own architect practice with Charles Gray and Walter Pauley.

One of Eames most notable influences was Finnish architect Eliel Saarinen. At the request of Saarinen's son Eero, Charles Eames moved to Michigan to continue on in his architectural studies at the Cranbrook Academy of Art. At Cranbrook, Eames taught and climbed up the ranks to become the head of the industrial design department.

Alongside Eero, Eames created furniture for New York's MOMA "Organic Design in Home Furnishings" competition. Over the course of this competition the duo displayed a new technique of wood moulding which had originally been introduced by Alvar Aalto. Eames would later continue to develop this technique and channel it into plywood products such as chair, in addition to splints and stretchers for the U.S. Navy in World War II.

Ray Eames was also an American Artist and designer, as well as a filmmaker who helped Charles to come up with numerous iconic designs of the 20th century. Unlike her husband, Ray got her start studying abstract painting with Hans Hofmann.

As designers, Charles and Ray led the way in creating innovative technologies such as fiberglass, plastic resin chairs and wire mesh chairs, as well as the dining chair metal plywood seat. The office of these influential designers continued on for over four decades in Venice, California and included other recognizable designers Harry Bertoia and Gregory Ain. In 1956 the couple narrowed their focus in creating The Lounge which was an iconic piece of furniture spanning from the 1960s to the 1970s.

Besides creating innovative designs, Charles and Ray Eames also made their mark in the film industry. One of Charles and Ray's most known films is an American documentary short film titled "Powers of Ten." This piece demonstrates the Universe in relative scale in factors of ten.

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