Ray Eames – To speak about Ray Eames necessitates speaking about her husband Charles Eames as well. A couple famous for their work together to produce classic modern furniture and architecture, she was born in Sacramento, California on December 15, 1912. She graduated from Bennett Women’s College in 1933 and went onto to study abstract expressionist painting with Hans Hofmann founding the American Abstract Artists group three years later in New York.
It was in 1940 that she entered the Cranbrook Academy of Art in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan. Here she met her future husband, Charles Eames while putting together her drawings and models for the Organic Design in Home Furnishings competition. Moving to Los Angeles their marriage would prove to be the merging of outstanding design talent in both modern furniture design and architecture.
Ray Eames also designed several covers for the magazine Arts & Architecture in 1943, 1944 and 1947. As well, her design interest led her to explore the creation of several textile designs, two of which the Crosspatch and Sea Things were produced by the same company that also produced Salvador Dali and Frank Lloyd Wright, Schiffer Prints.
Ray Eames opened an office with Charles Eames in Venice, California from 1943-88. Like other modern designers during this time, they explored modern furniture design utilizing new materials in innovative ways. They were particularly creative first with molded plywood and later in the 1950’s, experimenting with fiberglass, plastic resin and wire mesh. These were turned into chairs that were designed for and produced by Herman Miller. While Charles Eames received credit for the designs Ray Eames should have received equal credit. Prolific, their designs spanned from 1935 to 1984 with the Eames Sofa that was produced after Charles Eames death.
The furniture they designed such as the Eames Plywood Lounge Chair (1945) was to be produced as an affordable item that was both comfortable and suitable for mass marketing. It was in 1956 that they designed their first high-end modern design, the Eames Lounge Chair that incorporated their signature molded plywood and leather.
Not content to only design furniture and buildings they also explored film making producing Powers of Ten in 1977. Fascinated with technology and rationalism as a part of modern design, they created a number of exhibitions, “Mathematica: a world of numbers…and beyond” in 1961 that still exists today.
It is ironic but perhaps not surprising that when she died in 1988 it was exactly ten years later to the day when Charles died.