Date
March 24, 2021
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According to Charles and Ray Eames, an architect and a painter, recognizing the consumer’s need is the primary condition for design.

Looking back at the history of design, it looks like many landmark contributions at the heart of architecture and design’s most fundamental trends and methods came from creative duos: think about Florence & Hans Knoll, Anna Ferrieri & Giulio Castelli, Aline & Eero Saarinen… And Charles & Ray Eames, of course! The couple that earlier than any other identified the need for affordable, high-quality furniture for the average user.

‘Charles & Ray Eames. The Power of Design’, an exhibition at the Vitra Design Museum – © Heinz Bunse/flickr – Cover image – © 2013, Eames Office, LLC (eamesoffice.com)

Charles and Ray Eames were the first designers to mass-produce molded plywood with compound curves

Charles Eames and Ray Kaiser Eames met in 1940 and got married the following year; soon after they began molding plywood into chairs, in their Venice office. In their almost 40 years together, not only Charles and Ray Eames did change the course of design history, but also the couple is known for their contributions to architecture, fine art, manufacturing and photography.

‘The World of Charles and Ray Eames’, an exhibition curated and organised by Barbican – © Stad Genk / Kristof Vrancken

The DSR Chair

The Dining height Side chair Rode base (DSR), soon dubbed the Eiffel Tower, for its resemblance to the famous Parisian tower, is part of Charles and Ray Eames’ first series of side chairs (1950): the designer duo created for the same shell made of fibreglass and later polypropylene, a range of interchangeable bases.

The DSR Chair by Charles and Ray Eames, as part of their first series of side chairs – © Vitra

Lounge Chair

Designed in 1956, the Lounge Chair set new standards at the time: not only was it lighter, more elegant and more appealing than the conventional club chair, but the combination with the ottoman also made it much more comfortable. Now part of the MoMA permanent collection, the Lounge Chair by Charles and Ray Eames has attained the status of a classic in the history of modern furniture.

Curious to know more about other iconic Eames’ furniture designs? Don’t miss Design iteration: the Eames Wire Chair.

The Lounge Chair by Charles and Ray Eames, a classic in the history of modern furniture – © Vitra

The Eames House

Nestled into the hillside, the house that Charles and Ray Eames built for themselves in Los Angeles resembles, from the outside, a Mondrian painting: a landmark of 20th-century modern architecture, the Eames house consists of two glass and steel rectangular boxes that served as their home and studio till their death, now a US National Historic Landmark open to visitors.

The Eames House, a landmark of 20th century modern architecture – © Lauren Manning/flickr

La Chaise

Floating Figure, a nude in bronze by the French-American sculptor Gastone Lachaise, was the inspiration for this chair, realized in 1948 for the MoMA international competition for low-cost furniture design. In many ways this seat, made of fibreglass, sitting on top of a base made of steel and oak, is an uncharacteristic Eames design: not only it is more beautiful than it is comfortable, but also La Chaise proved too expensive to be mass-produced, until the ’90s, when Vitra found a way.

Inspired by the Floating Figure, La Chaise is an uncharacteristic Eames design – © snow blog/flickr

Eames Lounge Chair Wood

Declared by Time Magazine the greatest design of the 20th century, the Eames Lounge Chair Wood dates from the period of Charles and Ray Eames’ early experiments with three-dimensionally moulded plywood. A low seated easy chair that has been manufactured by Herman Miller and Vitra – the latter for Europe and the Middle East, two great companies that continue to have a friendly relationship with the descendant of Charles and Ray Eames, keeping their spirits alive.

Interested to know about other duos who have changed the course of design history? Head to Design Icon – Florence Knoll.

The LCW chair by Charles and Ray Eames, declared by Time Magazine the greatest design of the 20th century- © Drew Bates/flickr
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