Charles and Ray Eames

Charles and Ray Eames

American designers and architects
Country: USA

  1. Charles and Ray Eames: Contributions to Architecture and Design
  2. Charles Eames: Early Life and Education
  3. Collaboration with Eero Saarinen and Move to Michigan
  4. Ray Eames: Early Life and Artistic Pursuits
  5. Collaboration and Innovative Design
  6. Film and Photography
  7. Later Years and Legacy

Charles and Ray Eames: Contributions to Architecture and Design

Charles and Ray Eames, American designers and architects, made significant contributions to modern architecture and furniture production. They also worked extensively in the fields of industrial and graphic design, fine arts, and film.

Charles and Ray Eames

Charles Eames: Early Life and Education

Charles Ormond Eames Jr. was born on June 17, 1907, in St. Louis, Missouri. At the age of 14, while studying at Yeatman High School, Charles began working at the Laclede Steel Company, where he developed an interest in techniques, drawing, and architecture. He further studied architecture for two years at Washington University, but was reportedly expelled for promoting the ideas of Frank Lloyd Wright and expressing an interest in contemporary architects. It was at the university where Charles met his future wife, Catherine Woermann, with whom he formed a relationship in 1929. They welcomed their daughter, Lucia Jenkins, a year later. In 1930, Charles opened his own architectural office with his partner Charles Gray, later joined by Walter Pauley.

Charles and Ray Eames

Collaboration with Eero Saarinen and Move to Michigan

Upon the advice of Finnish architect Eliel Saarinen, with whom Charles later formed a friendship and collaboration with Eliel's son, Eero Saarinen, Charles, his wife, and daughter moved to Michigan in 1958 to continue their studies at the Cranbrook Academy of Art. Together with Eero, Charles won a furniture design competition held by the Museum of Modern Art in New York City. Their work showcased a new technique for wood processing developed by Alvar Aalto.

Charles and Ray Eames

Ray Eames: Early Life and Artistic Pursuits

Ray-Bernice Alexandra Kaiser Eames was born on December 15, 1912, in Sacramento, California. During her youth, she moved to several different cities. In 1933, Ray graduated from Bennett College in Millbrook, New York, and relocated to New York City, where she studied abstract expressionism under Hans Hofmann. In 1936, she became one of the founders of the American Abstract Artists group, whose paintings were first exhibited at the Riverside Museum in Manhattan. In September 1940, Ray began her studies at the Cranbrook Academy of Art, where she met Charles.

Collaboration and Innovative Design

After their marriage, Charles and Ray moved to Los Angeles, California, where they lived and worked together for the rest of their lives. In the late 1940s, they designed and built the innovative "Eames House" as part of a program sponsored by an architectural magazine. Perched on a cliff overlooking the Pacific Ocean, the Eames House was constructed in a few days using prefabricated elements and became a significant milestone in modern architecture. In 1945, the couple invented the plywood Eames Lounge Chair, which allowed for comfortable reclining. By 1956, they added a small ottoman, transforming the chair into a lounge chair.

Film and Photography

Charles' initial interest in photography led him and his second wife, Ray, to start making short films. Their first film, "Traveling Boy," was completed in the 1950s. In addition to documenting their ideas, interests, and creative processes, the couple also produced films on various topics. For example, their short film, "Powers of Ten," utilized a unique technique to depict the universe, with each successive frame being ten times smaller than the previous one. Charles and Ray begin the film at the edge of the universe and end at the core of a carbon atom.

Later Years and Legacy

Charles Eames passed away from a heart attack on August 21, 1978, during a business trip to his hometown of St. Louis. He has a star on the St. Louis Walk of Fame. Ray Eames died exactly ten years later, on August 21, 1988, in Los Angeles.