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 Charles & Ray Eames  (1907/1912 - 1978/1988)

About: Charles & Ray Eames
 

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Lived/Active: California      Known for: furniture design, architecture, film making

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Ad Code: 3
AskART Artist
from Auction House Records.
A HIGHLY IMPORTANT AND UNIQUE SCULPTURE, 1943
Artwork images are copyright of the artist or assignee
This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Charles Ormond Eames, Jr (1907–1978) and Bernice Alexandra "Ray" (née Kaiser) Eames (1912–1988) were husband and wife and American designers, who worked in and made major contributions to modern architecture and furniture. They also worked in the fields of industrial and graphic design, fine art and film.  Both students at the Cranbrook Academy of Art*, they married and moved to Los Angeles, where they lived and worked as architects, furniture and fabric designers and film makers for the remainder of their lives.  He preceded her in death by ten years.

The Eameses pioneered technologies, such as the fiberglass* and plastic resin* chairs and the wire mesh chairs designed for Herman Miller. From the beginning, the Eames furniture has usually been listed as by Charles Eames. In the 1948 and 1952 Herman Miller bound catalogs, only Charles' name is listed, but it has become clear that Ray was deeply involved and should be considered an equal partner.

The Eames fabrics (many are currently available from Maharam) were mostly designed by Ray, as were the Time Life Stools.  In 1979, the Royal Institute of British Architects awarded Charles and Ray with the Royal Gold Medal. At the time of Charles' death they were working on what became their last production, the Eames Sofa, which went into production in 1984.

Charles and Ray channeled Charles' interest in photography into the production of short films. From their first film, the unfinished Traveling Boy (1950), to Powers of Ten (re-released in 1977), their cinematic work was an outlet for ideas, a vehicle for experimentation and education. The couple often produced short films in order to document their interests, such as collecting toys and cultural artifacts on their travels. The films also record the process of hanging their exhibits or producing classic furniture designs. Some of their other films cover more intellectual topics. For example, one film covers the purposely mundane topic of filming soap suds moving over the pavement of a parking lot. Powers of Ten (narrated by the late physicist Philip Morrison), gives a dramatic demonstration of orders of magnitude by visually zooming away from the earth to the edge of the universe, and then microscopically zooming into the nucleus of a carbon atom.

The Eameses also conceived and designed a number of exhibitions. The first of these, Mathematica: a world of numbers...and beyond (1961), was sponsored by IBM, and is the only one of their exhibitions still extant. The Mathematica exhibition is still considered a model for science popularization exhibitions. It was followed by A Computer Perspective: Background to the Computer Age (1971) and The World of Franklin and Jefferson (1975–1977), among others.

The office of Charles and Ray Eames, which functioned for more than four decades (1943–88) at 901 Washington Boulevard in Venice, California, included in its staff, at one time or another, a number of remarkable designers, like Henry Beer and Richard Foy, now co-chairmen of CommArts, Inc.; Don Albinson; Deborah Sussman; Harry Bertoia; and Gregory Ain, who was Chief Engineer for the Eameses during World War II. Among the many important designs originating there are the molded-plywood DCW (Dining Chair Wood) and DCM (Dining Chair Metal with a plywood seat) (1945), Eames Lounge Chair (1956), the Aluminum Group furniture (1958) and as well as the Eames Chaise (1968), designed for Charles's friend, film director Billy Wilder, the playful Do-Nothing Machine (1957), an early solar energy experiment, and a number of toys.

In 1970–71, Charles Eames gave the Charles Eliot Norton Lectures at Harvard University. At the lectures, the Eames viewpoint and philosophy are related through Charles' own telling of what he called the banana leaf parable, a banana leaf being the most basic dish off which to eat in southern India. He related the progression of design and its process where the banana leaf is transformed into something fantastically ornate. He explains the next step and ties it to the design process by finishing the parable with:

"But you can go beyond that and the guys that have not only means, but a certain amount of knowledge and understanding, go the next step and they eat off of a banana leaf. And I think that in these times when we fall back and regroup, that somehow or other, the banana leaf parable sort of got to get working there, because I'm not prepared to say that the banana leaf that one eats off of is the same as the other eats off of, but it's that process that has happened within the man that changes the banana leaf. And as we attack these problems—and I hope and I expect that the total amount of energy used in this world is going to go from high to medium to a little bit lower—the banana leaf idea might have a great part in it."

Architecture
    •    Eames House entry (Case Study House #8)
    •    Sweetzer House (between 1930–33)
    •    St. Louis Post-Dispatch model home (193?)
    •    St. Mary's Church (Helena, Arkansas) (1934)
    •    St. Mary's Church (Paragould, Arkansas) (1935)
    •    Dinsmoor House (1936)
    •    Dean House (193?)
    •    Meyer House (1938)
    •    Bridge house (Eames-Saarinen) (1945)
    •    Entenza House (1949)
    •    Eames House (1949)
    •    Max De Pree House (1954)

Exhibitions and retrospectives
    •    Charles and Ray Eames at the Design Museum, London (1998)[9]
    •    Library of Congress exhibit (1999)

On June 17, 2008, the US Postal Service released the Eames Stamps, a pane of 16 stamps celebrating the designs of Charles and Ray Eames.  A well-received documentary about the couple titled Eames: The Architect and the Painter was released on November 18, 2011 as part of the American Masters series on PBS television.

Source:
Wikipedia
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charles_and_Ray_Eames
 
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