Monday, November 7, 2011

Screams For Eames

Charles (1907-1978) and Ray Eames (1912-1988).
Who doesn't know that Eames products are quintessential for creating your mid-century style home or Mad Men office? But did you know Charles Ormond Eames Junior is a native of St. Louis, MO?  He attended Washington University's School of Architecture. It is rumored he was dismissed from the school because of his modern views. Others say it was because of sleep deprivation between having the demands of school and work. To further his education in architecture, he moved (in 1938) to Michigan. Charles attended the Cranbrook Academy of Art. He decided to use the St. Louis riverfront as his area of focus in order to apply for the Architecture and Urban Planning Program. With the help of Eero Saarinen (friend architect partner), Charles designed prize-winning furniture for New York's Museum of Modern Art "Organic Design in Home Furnishings" competition. Originally developed by Alvar Aalto, it displayed the newer technique of wood moulding. Eames further developed this technique in multiple moulded plywood products including: splints and stretchers for the U.S. Navy during World War II, and of course furniture!

After Charles divorced his wife of 12 years and mother of his daughter, named Lucia, Charles Eames married his second wife in 1941. He married his Cranbrook colleague Ray Kaiser. Mrs. Bernice Alexandra "Ray" Eames met Charles while preparing models and drawings for the "Organic Design in Home Furnishings" competition in September of 1940. Tsk Tsk.. dating before you're even officially divorced.

In 1943, 1944, and 1947, Ray Eames designed several covers for the reputable magazine, Arts & Architecture. She also had two of several textile designs produced by the company Schiffer Prints. So yeah, Ray can stand on her own two feet. Though, it is agreeable that Mrs. Ray was very involved and important in the designs with her husband. The Eames fabrics were mostly designed by her.

The Eames continued to be innovative in the 1950's, using plastic resin chairs and the wire mesh chairs designed for Herman Miller.

Throughout the mid to late 50's and into the 60's and 70's, Charles designed many exhibitions:
  • Textiles and Ornamental Arts of India (1955)
  • Glimpses of the USA (seven screens for the American exhibition in Moscow, Sokoolniki Park) (1959)
  • Mathematica (for IBM, 1961)
  • IBM Pavilion at the 1964 New York World's Fair
  • Nehru: The man and his India (1965)
  • The World of Franklin and Jefferson (1975) built for the US Bicentennial Commission opens in Paris, travels to five other countries and the US.
The couple had many short films documenting their interest, what we would consider indie films today. As part of the 20th Annual St. Louis Int'l Film Festival, the Sam Fox School of Design and Visual Arts' Steinberg Auditorium at Washington University, will be screening "Eames: The Architect & the Painter". It is a revealing documentary on the husband-and-wife team.

Eames films include:

  • Traveling Boy (1950)
  • Blacktop: A Story of the Washing of a School Play Yard (1952)
  • Parade Parade Or Here They Are Coming Down Our Street (1952)
  • A Communications Primer (1953)
  • House: After Five Years of Living (1955)
  • Day of the Dead (1957)
  • Toccata for Toy Trains (1957)
  • Kaleidoscope Jazz Chair (1960)
  • Powers of Ten (1968, rereleased in 1977)
  • Image of the City (1969)
  • Banana Leaf (1972)
  • Fiberglass Chairs
  • SX-70
  • Eames Lounge Chair

No doubt they are part of America's most influential and important industrial designers!

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