Charles & Ray Eames
Born in St. Louis, Missouri in 1907, Charles Eames attended Washington University for two years before his advocacy of the then radical architect, Frank Lloyd Wright, led to his expulsion. Charles, undeterred from his architectural aspirations, established his own studio in 1930 with partner Charles Gray.
In 1938, Charles Eames received a fellowship to the distinguished Cranbrook Academy of Art in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan. It was here, while working with Eero Saarinen on designs for the Organic Furniture Competition at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City, that Charles met his future wife, fellow student Ray Kaiser. Eames and Saarinen were awarded two first prizes for their work, which pioneered new techniques in the design of molded plywood.
Charles and Ray married in 1941 and, shortly after, moved to Los Angeles. They continued to experiment with molded plywood, searching for a strong, flexible material capable of taking on a variety of forms. While this work failed to produce satisfactory results, it did lead to a commission by the research and development division of the US Navy. With full access to military resources and technology, the Eames were able to further their experimentation and created various molded forms of splints, stretchers, and gliders for use by the Allies during WWII.
After the war, Charles and Ray Eames returned their focus to domestic design. Utilizing techniques developed while working for the Navy, the pair developed multiple designs for molded plywood and fiberglass chairs known by their design models (DCW, LCW, DAX, DCM), as well as the iconic Eames Lounge Chair, La Chaise, and a series of office chairs known as the Eames Aluminum Group. The Eames also developed several desks, storage units like the classic ESU, sofas, tables, and more.
Charles Eames died in 1978. Ray functioned as the chief archivist of their legacy and collaborated on a number of books about their designs until her own death in 1988.
Charles and Ray Eames are widely celebrated for reimagining the concepts of form and functionality. Working together, the couple pioneered much of the modern aesthetic, incorporating new techniques in molded fiberglass and plywood that defined an era of American design.