Saturday, July 24, 2010

24 July 1956 “Charles and Ray Eames”

eames1 Charles and Ray Eames were a husband and wife duo whose work in Art, Film, Furniture, Interiors and the list goes on, made a major stamp on mid-century life. This was their 1944 Christmas card, in the background is a plywood sculpture of theirs.
Much of what we think of when we think mid-century modern is often their work or touched by them in some way. I find it telling, as well, that a married couple should have made such an impact, when you consider our over general impression of 1950’s is the married couple.
By my time, here in 1956, their work had become literally a household name. Here is a two part special on their work which airs this year (56) on NBC.
They did much work for Herman Miller, an office furniture manufacturer in Michigan (which still resides and produces furniture there.) This chair for Herman Miller is the quintessential Herman Miller/Eames look with which most of us are familiar.This is Charles and Ray Eames, Lounge Chair and Ottoman, 1956, Molded rosewood plywood, black leather upholstery, aluminum 33 x 33 x 33” (chair) 16 x 26 x 21” (ottoman) Grand Rapids Art Museum, Gift of La Vern and Betty DePree Van Kley. Photographer: Nick Merrick. Source: Museum of Arts & Design via Bloomberg News
The organic nature of their work and its fluidity mingled with sharp almost space age angles really defined the style of the 1950’s from drapes, to dresses.rayeameswithprint In the second part of the above NBC special Charles talks about his work with Herman Miller and I found it refreshing that he mentions they were not trying to make a mass market product. That the work, even for that company, was more about design and quality for the consumer, such a stark contrast from the make it quick, pump it out by the millions mentality of our modern IKEA world.
Even their own home built in 1949 with its Mondrian-esque color block facade couldn’t be more 1950’s (even though it was not yet the 50’s). HERE is an interesting page about this house and the project of their house, #8 in their ‘case study’ of building 24 houses.
I was never that intrigued by mid-century design or even art prior to my journey to 1955, but I keep finding myself becoming more enamored with it. And feeling that even in my 1710 cape style American Colonial Pre-Revolutionary house, that their clean lines and functionality can find a comfortable home with the minimal line and quality of actual colonial furniture. I find myself increasingly captivated by their work.
For more information of the amazing and interesting Eames’, HERE is a great site about their work and its affect on our culture and country.
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