american masters of design, ray and charles eames

Charles & Ray Eames were a husband and wife team of artists. Despite the names and the confusion they have caused for some media reviewers, theywere not brothers. PBS did a documentary on them as part of the American Masters series. A short biographic essay is on-line, Charles & Ray Eames: The Architect and the Painter

Charles and Ray Eames headed the most creative design office in post World War II America. Frequently photographed in matching clothes, poses, or both, each brought a rich array of talents to their life/work partnership (1941-1978) as well as a contagious enthusiasm for life and art.

Dazzlingly bright-eyed, Ray looked like a cross between Dorothy in the enchanted Land of Oz and an artistic version of the energetic and engaging Jo March in Little Women. Charles, who looked (like) film star Henry Fonda, was handsome, charismatic and thought by many to be a “genius”.

Their studiously simple lifestyle revolved around their “laboratory” workshop and office in Los Angeles. No one worked harder than this pair; and no one took greater pleasure in their work. Together, they (and those who worked in the office) created some of the most iconic furniture of the twentieth century, which, together with their architecture, interiors, films, multi-media shows and exhibitions helped shape how people thought about objects and buildings.


You can watch the entire documentary on-line, but apparently it is blocked for countries outside the United States. I can appreciate the frustration with that since I would like to watch some BBC programs on-line, but they are blocked for countries outside the U.K. The trailer is available, EAMES: The Architect and The Painter – Trailer

Arts and Architecture magazine cover by Ray Eames via library of congress

Charles and Ray leaving Los Angeles for
Moscow with the Films for the
1959 American National Exhibition,
photograph. Library of Congress.

Ten to the power of one slide from a slide show for Powers of Ten. “These elaborately conceived and executed panels were created by the Eames Office for Powers of Ten. Forty-two large square images that mark the powers of ten were used in the production of the film and later reproduced for the 1982 book, Powers of Ten: A Book About the Relative Size of Things in the Universe and the Effect of Adding Another Zero, written by Philip Morrison, Phylis Morrison, and the Office of Charles and Ray Eames. ” Difficult to see clearly on this small thumbnail, but it is a picnic scene. Also Library of Congress.

Wire side chair, 1951
Charles Eames (American, 1907–1978); Ray Eames (American, 1912–1988); manufactured by Herman Miller Furniture Company, Zeeland, Michigan
Metal wire, painted black. This and some other furniture designs can be seen full size at the Metropolitan.There is an on-line slide show here – A slide show at the Metropolitan Museum – Charles Eames (1907–78) and Ray Eames (1912–88). We’ve probably all seen the ubiquitous plastic chair design by Charles that still is common in bus depots, airports and laundry-mats.