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Furniture / Product Designers
"What works is better than what looks good, what looks good can change, but what works, works."
Husband and wife, Charles (1907-1978) and Ray (1912-1989) Eames created a new identity for mid-20th century American design. Quick to identify the need for affordable, yet high-quality furniture for the average consumer, they began over 40 years of progressive work, experimenting with new production methods and materials. With an ethos for quality design for the masses in a bid for social change and betterment, the core of their diverse work was the search for seat and back forms that comfortably support the body, without using orthodox upholstery methods.
Charles studied architecture and had a fascination for the mechanics and the complex working of things. Early in his career, together with Eero Saarine, Charles designed prize-winning furniture for New York's Museum of Modern Art "Organic Design" competition. Their work displayed the new technique of wood moulding that Eames would further develop in many products, including besides chairs and other furniture, splints and stretchers for the US Navy during World War II.
Ray studied painting in New York and participated in the first wave of American-born abstract artists. Together they began exploring the concept of a seat as a shell, moulded to the body so that upholstery becomes unnecessary. Over the decades they collaborated with the company Herman Miller on furniture design, working with a diverse range of mediums - including moulded fibreglass, wire and mesh chairs and moulded plywood.
Many Eames designs are considered icons of mid-20th century American design, with many still in production. Among these designs, Heal's offer the Eames Lounge Chair and Footstool(1956) - a modern interpretation of the traditional club armchair, intended to convey the impression of a soft, well-used baseball glove. The Eames PSCC Office Chair, with its organic shell seat made from polypropylene has been re-incarnated over the decades with different bases. The Hang It All C&R Eames Coat Rack with colourful hooks and playful design stands up as a piece of art in its right.
Remembered mostly for architecture and furniture design, Charles and Ray Eames were also toy designers, photographers and filmmakers - an insight to their creativity and far-reaching interests. They continued to create new furniture designs into the 1970s.
View the Charles and Ray Eames collection available at Heal's.