As we look forward to 2020 trends, we are certain that elements of Mid-Century Modern design will still stand strong, even as Art Deco and Scandinavian influences start to creep in. We have all seen the rise in molded plastic chairs and plywood furniture in the last decade so I thought we’d shed some light on the lesser-known half of the massively influential Eames duo. I’m going to assume that a majority of those reading this have heard of Charles Eames. He worked in equal partnership with his wife, Ray Kaiser Eames, to create a prolific career that ran the gamut from furniture design and architecture to film making, textiles, toys, and much more.
Ray and Charles were the ultimate power-couple for producing work and bouncing new ideas off one another. Charles had a saying throughout their career together, “anything I can do, Ray can do better.” Since Charles took on roles with the press more often, Ray often remained in the shadows. Her influence, however, is undeniable.
Ray first started her career as an artist, doing abstract expressionist paintings and sculpture in New York. She exhibited around Manhattan and became a founding member of the radical American Abstract Artists group. This time in the city helped her develop a visual language that would inform the shapes and colors of her work for decades to come. From the lithograph and sculpture in the following photos, it is evident how the shapes translate to future furniture designs like La Chaise and the DCW chair.
After her mother’s death, Ray left for the Cranbrook Academy of Art in Michigan, where she met Charles in 1940. The couple married in 1941 and immediately moved to California to start their company. Their aim was to utilize new materials and technology so that everyday objects of high quality in both form and function could be produced at a reasonable cost.
Ray had a signature touch to design, one that was graceful yet biomorphic. Because the married couple worked so well together, the furniture comes off as a harmonious juxtaposition of feminine curves and traditionally rigid and masculine materials. We also have Ray to thank for creating one of the most recognizable patterns of mid-century modern design - Dot Pattern (shown in photograph of Ray above). This textile was created in 1947 and is still being used in designs today (can you say timeless?).
Though lesser-known half of the Eames duo, the design world definitely has Ray to thank for her huge influence on Modern design. We will be drawing inspiration from her life and work for years to come.
All photos courtesy of EamesOffice.com.