Great Design Monday: Charles and Ray Eames

shoutOut on 4/2/13 by travis.lyle1 in

Charles & Ray Eames - Mid-Century Modern Design Pioneers

In the great, wide and wonderful world of design, the practicality of an item can sometimes be overlooked in favour of aesthetics - form and function might not always meet in harmony, and the result can often be more a creation destined to be focus of discussion rather than practical use. The same cannot be said for the creations of Charles and Ray Eames, the American couple who had such a strong influence on furniture design that as you read this, you might not have noticed that the chair you're sitting on was likely either designed by them in its original form, or was heavily influenced by a design of theirs.

Crisp, clean, modern and long-lasting - a classic design formula

Having independently developed a keen sense of design (Charles established an architect's practice in 1930, and Ray was a founding member of the American Abstract Artists group in 1936), and both having been successful in their respective fields, it was when they met and married that their combined design skills began to make a long-lasting impact on the design and materials used in furniture manufacturing. In particular, their use of moulded components and curved lines had a strong influence on the genre that since come to be known as Mid-Century Modern Design.

Eames chairs - design icons across the world

Among Charles and Ray Eames's greatest designs have been those done for the legendary furniture company Herman Miller, which continues to sell a wide range of Eames chairs that remain very popular as high-quality office furnture. Chances are that if you're sitting in a swivel chair, one with a moulded seat, a welded frame or one which makes use of aluminium spider legs and rollers, that the chair may in fact be an Eames design, if not directly influenced by one of their designs. In the last ten years, original Eames chairs have become highly sought-after and can fetch crazy prices on auction.

Structure and practicality, combined to create durable design classics 

In the last few years, the super-clean lines of Eames design have seen something of a revival in interest, with Herman Miller re-issuing many of their iconic 1950s designed pieces, often with a contemporary update in the form of collaborations with design firms who have added their particular style (as in the pieces above, which are the result of a collaboration between Herman Miller and foundry House Industry). One thing's for sure - if you have an original Eames piece, you should look after it - it's a design classic which could one day be worth quite a pretty penny!

If you enjoyed this design article, take a look at the many others in our Great Design Monday archive! 


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