With a background in architecture, Charles Eames was an innovative designer. In 1940 he won first prize (alongside fellow designer Eero Saarinen) for their joint entry into the 'Organic Design in Home Furnishings' competition at the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York. During this time he met artist and painter Ray Kaiser whilst working at Cranbrook Academy of Art, and in 1941 they married. The inseparable duo designed some of the most iconic furniture of the twentieth century. Charles and Ray were fascinated by the elegant and organic shapes of moulded plywood, so much so that they installed a workshop in the spare room of their rented home in LA. Their first order for 5,000 moulded plywood leg splints from the US Navy allowed them to expand.

They went on to design and produce sculpture, chairs, screens, tables and toys in plywood, including the legendary Eames Elephant now mass-produced by Vitra in a more cost-efficient and child-friendly moulded plastic. It wasn't long before Herman Miller, the US furniture group, were persuaded to put many Eames plywood pieces into production by Head of Design, George Nelson

 

In the mid-1950s the pair moved onto experiments with plastic and aluminium and in 1956 the iconic Eames Lounge Chair was born, which quickly established itself as the only executive chair to have during the '60s and '70s. In 1957, they began to collaborate with their European partner,Vitra, who still produce many of their classic pieces including the elegant aluminium group office chairs.

The couple continued to work together in Southern California for forty years, resulting in exhibitions, films, photographs and numerous furniture designs. They also built their own innovative home in the Pacific Palisades, which continues to be a Mecca for architects and designers from all over the world. With their design principle to 'make things better', it's easy to see why Charles and Ray Eames's furniture designs continue to remain stylish, functional and coveted today.

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