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Designer of the month - Charles & Ray Eames

Charles & Ray Eames

Charles & Ray Eames were a hugely influential husband and wife design team that launched an entire new style of furniture for the home and office. The couple's elegantly simple approach also influenced other fields such as film and graphic design, as well as having a lasting influence on architecture.

Today, their partnership is considered one of the most significant in American design history. Their immensely practical but elegant style remains popular today, and many of their furniture designs are still manufactured true to the original designs without alteration for modern homes and work spaces. The genius of the Eames partnership was combining creative excellence with commercial acumen; proving that it was possible for industry and design to collaborate in the production of beautiful, mass-produced goods.

Married in 1941, Charles and Ray Eames produced moulded plywood furniture out of their California design practice, and were also responsible for the first plastic chair to be produced industrially. Their moulded plywood lounge chair was immediately successful upon release, and later christened the “chair of the century” by architectural critics. Still in production today, it's a timeless, sturdy design that has well and truly stood the test of time.

As well as plywood, Charles and Ray Eames worked with materials such as fibreglass, plastic, and aluminium. Originally a fiberglass design the iconic DSR chair also continues to be manufactured today, although technological advances have replaced the original material with recyclable polypropylene. Part of the success of the design, apart from its usability, is that its sleek and minimal style means that it integrates well with other styles of furniture.

Some of the pieces designed by the Eames partnership fit equally well into the home or office. Examples include the LTR occasional table and the ultimate in mid century furniture design – the Eames Lounge Chair & Ottoman, one of the most copied pieces of furniture today. On a playful note the Hang It All – originally designed for Children – graces many offices and homes and had features synonymous with design of the period.

Eames House

Charles and Ray Eames are also remembered for Eames House, their Los Angeles home, which remains a design landmark as well as museum and mecca for design aficionados.

Built in 1949 using a steel frame with brightly coloured panels of plaster and glass in blue, red and other more neutral colours, the effect is sleek but also brash. The innovative design has meant it is still influential for architects and designers around the world, and is now considered to be one of the world's most significant mid-century buildings. The couple lived in the house until their deaths, using it as a centre for their work and home lives.

What's your favourite Charles & Ray Eames design?

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