Charles and Ray Eames are the most famous design duo of the 20th century. Their iconic furniture designs are recognised worldwide and featured in many incredible spaces globally, too. Their moulded plastic and maple chairs are unrivaled and a constant best seller! We have them in our own homes because not only do they look super stylish, but they will last a lifetime too… The designs created by Charles and Ray are fascinating enough, but their stories and what they went on to achieve are equally quirky and inspiring.
Here are 10 things you didn’t know about our favourite power couple…
1. YOU CAN VISIT THEIR HOME
In 1940 the Eames Case Study House No. 8 was constructed. The Eames moved into the home where they would spend the rest of their lives together. They wanted a home that would make no demands for itself and blend in with the beautiful natural surroundings. The vast windows allow an amazing natural light to flood into the home, most of which is made from minimal materials for war-time conservation purposes. The house was integrated into the landscape in order to preserve the meadow and trees around it. Now an iconic structure and perfectly preserved, this historical landmark is visited by people from all over the world.
You can watch a short film made by Charles & Ray Eames of this house HERE.
2. THEY HAVE UNRELEASED DESIGNS
In the 1930’s the couple created a prototype which meant to go on and be a dollhouse styled on their own home. The structure could have been a Mid-Century Modern collectible, complete with miniature models of Eames furniture, but sadly this dream never became a reality – such a shame!
3. THINGS COULD GET PERSONAL
1942, medical officers serving in World War II reported the need for emergency transport splints. Charles and Ray designed a unique splint for them, the shape molded from Charles own leg! These days the splints can be bought for over £500 each…
4. RAY WAS AN ECLECTIC COLLECTOR
Ray became notorious for the many objects she collected. These included tiny toys left over from film shoots, sugar animals meant for Mexican altars, shells, a family of combs, pint-sized dishware, Chinese kites and plenty more. Like a living mood board, it was her love of collecting small objects that helped the Eames team build their eclectic interior style that was such a huge contrast to the more traditional and pristine pre-war style.
5. CHARLES LEFT SCHOOL EARLY
Charles dropped out of the Washington University program after only two years. Despite never receiving his architects license, this didn’t stop the both of them from creating a vast portfolio of amazing houses.
6. THEY PRODUCE FABRICS
Around 1947, Ray created a collection of geometric textile patterns inspired by her background in abstract art. She studied painting with Hans Hofmann (who also taught Jackson Pollock) before starting at Cranbrook Academy where she met Charles. After moving away from painting and into other methods of design these bold fabrics were born. They are still in production with Maharam almost 70 years later! We’d like these on a cushion please.
7. CHARLES PROPOSED WITH A LETTER
Dear Miss Kaiser,
I am 34 (almost) years old, single (again) and broke. I love you very much and would like to marry you very very soon.* I cannot promise to support us very well. — but if given the chance I’ll sure in hell try –
*soon means very soon.
What is the size of this finger??
Who says romance is dead?
8. THEY LOVED CLOWNING AROUND
The playful pair were fascinated by Clowns. They filmed ‘Clown Face’ (a clown training video) in 1971. The film studied the simple act of clowns applying their makeup, which was shown to students at the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Clown College.
9. THEY DIDN’T LIKE BEER
Okay, not quite… but their motto to “innovate as a last resort” rang true when they turned down a chance to redesign the Budweiser label because ‘there wasn’t really a good enough reason to’. Their honesty and dedication to quality design is both admirable and inspiring.
10. THEY HAD SUPERSTAR FRIENDS
Charles and Ray were best friends with ‘Some Like It Hot’ director Billy Wilder. Ray helped design typography for opening credits in his movies and Charles would step in to shoot actual scenes.
If you want to inject some Eames into your home, you can choose from their vast collection of iconic chairs, and one of our personal faves, the famous House Bird…(every stylish house should have one!)