The Eames Story

Charles and Ray Eames’ are one of the most influential and well-renowned furniture design duos of all time. Not only were they incredibly insightful designers, but they also evolved into cultural ambassadors, influencing positive change with the US government and established businesses to modernise post-war America.

Charles Eames was born in 1907 in St Louis, Missouri. From a fairly young age, he developed an interest in architecture and engineering and went on to win a 2 year architecture scholarship at Washington University in 1925. Only 5 years later, he had opened his first architectural office with Charles Gray and later established another firm with Robert Walsh. It was around this time that Charles designed the iconic and contemporary-style Meyer House alongside Eliel Saarinen, who later offered Charles a fellowship at Cranbrook Academy of Art in 1938. Whilst working his way up to becoming head of the design department, he got to know Ray and the pair developed a relationship.

Ray was born 5 years after Charles as Bernice Alexandra ‘Ray’ Kaiser in Sacramento, California. Before enrolling at Cranbrook Academy of Art, she studied painting under Hans Hofmann until 1939. Ray was fascinated by the abstract qualities of ordinary objects, which influenced her involvement in the first ever exhibition of the American Abstract Artists group in New York. After her journey through Cranbrook and falling in love with Charles, the couple married in 1941.

From here on, the real journey began. Being intrigued by the malleable properties of moulded plywood, Charles and Ray started out with a plywood workshop in their spare room, won an order for the US Navy for plywood leg splints and went on to open a design studio on nearby Santa Monica Boulevard in California. In 1945, the iconic Plywood Chair went into production and 4 years later, the couple began construction of the two Case Study Houses which are frequented by visitors from all over the world today. They also designed and produced sculptures, tables, screens and chairs, such as the classic Eames Lounge Chair from 1956.

In an ironic twist, Ray died 10 years to the day that Charles passed away in 1978. Today, Vitra manufacture the Eames’ designs across Europe. You can shop high quality and authentic Eames products from Vitra, such as the legendary Eames Elephant, here at Nest.co.uk.

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