Charles and Ray Eames: Visionary designers

Widely recognised as the most influential designers of the 20th century, the husband-and-wife team of Charles and Ray Eames were famous for their innovative creations in the world of furniture and films.

Charles and Ray Eames

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The American couple are particularly well known for the iconic Eames lounge chair. According to Design Museum Shop, the lounge chair created in 1956 and made of leather and plywood became an icon of the 1960s and 1970s.

The chair seems familiar and timeless because it is a modern twist on the classic English club chair. You can find furniture inspired by Eames chairs at stores such as Pash Living.

Introduction of two great minds

Charles (1907-1978) studied architecture at Washington University and Cranbrook Academy of Art. He was greatly influenced by Eliel Saarinen, an architect from Finland, and became a partner with Eliel’s son, Eero. Eero and Eames designed furniture with Ray for the Museum of Modern Art in New York’s organic design in home furnishings competition, and their work won prizes.

Ray (1912-1988) was an artist, designer and film-maker who worked with Charles to make ground-breaking innovations in architecture, furniture and the arts. They produced 125 short films, which were a channel for their ideas and experimentation. They also put on exhibitions including “Mathematica: A World of Numbers… and Beyond”, which was sponsored by IBM and became a model for popular science exhibitions.

Creative eye and enthusiasm

The couple went on to design plywood furniture including chairs, for which they became particularly well known. Their big break came during the Second World War when the US Navy ordered 5,000 splints that had been made from a mould of Charles’s leg. After that, there was no looking back; their boundless enthusiasm created a whole new look in furniture design.

Together, the couple brought a fresh, new look to furniture that became known as the Eames look and was known for being modern, minimal, functional, sophisticated and beautiful. In addition to plywood, they also created furniture using plastic, aluminium and fibreglass.

The Eames look coincided with the expansion of American culture such as movies, art, music, fashion and furniture and is still highly desirable today.

It has been noted that Charles and Ray approached each project by asking if they could make something better and if it would be “serious fun”, which contributed to their huge success.

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