RAy anD ChARLes EAmeS

The lecture of today was about this dynamic, energetic and vigorous couple of creative designers that worked throughout the 20th century actively influencing and shaping the culturally and economically expanding world. Working in the development of modern architecture and furniture design as well as graphic design, fine art and film made possible the realization of several iconic designs of the 20thcentury giving them international credit. Their technical approach was innovative as much as experimental with the exploitation of many unusual materials and mediums such as molded plywoos, fiderglass, plastic resin and wire mesh to discover unknown possibilities in the field of product design.

They loudly broke into the international scene with their famous “Kazam”, a plywood leg splint based on a plaster mould of Charles’ own leg, this chair combined organic aesthetic with love of materials and technical ingenuity. This playful creativity gave birth to many different elegant furniture such as the “Lounge and Alluminium” series.

Their incredible attention and accurateness is proverbial with a natural focus on visual pleasure to be balanced with functionality. Riding approach and dedication made possible the growth of a rather new field of design, starting point from which it has developed our nowadays age of aesthetic where look and feel create a visceral almost subliminal attraction- peculiar material and form could easily seduce humanity this although wasn’t to the detriment of function which was cleverly combined with style and form. A sense of play and fun was deeply rooted and easily spottable in most of their work with a typical childish-like approach in term of colour, shapes and forms. Their creation had this distinctive enthusiasm and euphoria that incredibly reflected the American and western economical, cultural and social situation. Their ability in discovering the needs of a particular furniture still keeping it fairly affordable was exemplar, for the first time in history the masses had the possibility to buy professional designed furniture. Apparent happiness spread. Throughout their career they conceived, designed and produce every kind of furniture including tables, sofas, chairs, harm-chairs, sits for halls and stadiums, as well as storage units. All their designs were driven by a strict rigid dogma of functionalism, as Ray once said “What works is better than what looks good” and again “The looks good can change, but what works, works”.

The Eames were deeply involved during all their life in the realization of different films and movies with social and cultural aspect involved in it. It was a representation of the American life. Design mashed with culture, architecture and sculpture. This projects were either commissioned by big corporate as for IBM and Polaroid or self-initiated project devised in order to discover the new technological innovation and investigated the role of design in culture. Their movies are still nowadays incredibly representative of that time- the fast growing economy and of a self-confident community.

A couple that shaped design history and community in an exciting, fresh, clever way. Their spirit of research was exemplar and unique. I’ll conclude with one of Charles’ most famous quotes: “Innovation as the last resort”.





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