Charles and Ray Eames

U.S.A. (1907–1978) U.S.A. (1912–1988)

Design is for living. That maxim shaped a widespread shift in design during the 1940s and 1950s. It was a revolution of form, an exciting visual language that signaled a new age and a fresh start – and two of its prime movers were Charles and Ray Eames. The Eameses were a husband-and-wife team whose unique synergy led to a whole new look in furniture. Lean and modern. Sleek, sophisticated and simple. Beautifully functional.

Yet Charles and Ray Eames created more than a “look” with their bent plywood chairs and molded fiberglass seating. They had ideas about making a better world, one in which things were designed to fulfill the practical needs of ordinary people and bring greater simplicity and pleasure to our lives.

The Eameses adventurously pursued new ideas and forms with a sense of “serious fun.” Yet it was rigorous discipline that allowed them to achieve perfection of form and mastery over materials. As Charles noted about the molded plywood chair, “Yes, it was a flash of inspiration – a kind of 30-year flash.” Combining imagination and thought, art and science, Charles and Ray Eames created some of the most influential expressions of 20th-century design – furniture that remains stylish, fresh and functional today.

And they didn’t stop with furniture. The Eameses also created a highly innovative Case Study House in response to a magazine contest. They made films, including a seven-screen installation at the 1959 Moscow World’s Fair, presented in a dome designed by Buckminster Fuller. They designed showrooms, invented toys and generally made the world a more interesting place to be.

As the most important exponents of organic design, Charles and Ray Eames demonstrated how good design can improve quality of life and human understanding and knowledge.

This chair began with the Eameses’ desire to create a chair with “the warm, receptive look of a well-used first baseman’s mitt.”
The chair that Charles and Ray were designing,” explains Eames Demetrios, “is the chair that’s made tomorrow.”

Hailed by Time magazine as the Best Design of the 20th Century.

“Design is an expression of the purpose.” Charles Eames

The House of Charles and Ray. The Eameses built their dream house, aka Case Study House No. 8, in 1949 on a cliff overlooking the ocean in Pacific Palisades, CA. Constructed of steel, the house and adjacent studio were outfitted with a mix of transparent glass and colored panels, the latter specifically placed to provide relief from the sun. The pair also planted a row of eucalyptus trees to deliver shade and better connect the house with the surrounding meadow. Like many of the Case Study Houses, No. 8 was a celebration of indoor-outdoor living, and for the Eameses it became a laboratory for their shared life and work.

Interior decor was a living thing for the Eameses. The house was furnished with their own designs, and the art and objects collected on their travels – including tumbleweed picked up on their honeymoon – were regularly added and rearranged. Now managed by the Eames Foundation and available for tours, the house was declared a National Historic Landmark in 2007. Home to the Eameses for the rest of their lives, it remains much as they left it, furniture and spirited presence included.

© 2016 Eames Office, LLC (, photo by Timothy Street-Porter

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