Charles and Ray Eames, the husband and wife team, were responsible for some of the most iconic furniture design of the 20th century. They combined new production methods with aesthetic principle to produce beautiful furniture that could also be mass produced. Their goal was to bring design to the masses. Along with Harry Bertoia and George Nelson their designs became the hall-marks of mid-century modern design.
Charles Eames began designing furniture in collaboration with Eero Saarinen, together they experimented with curved plywood furniture, their work was exhibited in 1942 at a MOMA show called Organic Design in Home Furnishings, you can find the original exhibition catalog in the CU library collection.
A Machine for Sitting: The Eameses labored to perfect their chairs. They tested and tested in order to contour the pliable material to best support the human anatomy. The result is supremely comfortable chairs without cushions or upholstery. They utilized bent & molded plywood, poured fiberglass, or wire-frames in order to conform to the human body. Charles Eames’s obituary in the Washington Post called him the man “who changed the way the 20th century sat down.” You can find this newspaper article and more in ProQuest Historical Newspapers.
Eames furniture was meant to be functional, it was a tool for modern living. These mass-produced products could serve a variety of everyday uses, they were often stackable or foldable and always durable. “You usually find, that what works is better than what looks good, You know, the looks good can change, but what works, works.” -Ray Eames (The Work of Charles and Ray Eames: A Legacy of Invention, 10)
Images of Eames furniture can be found on Artstor.
The Eameses also became involved in architecture, working to design the Case Study Houses in California, including their own house:
Their work was featured in the classic design magazine Arts & Architecture, which is known for its innovative covers. you can see original copies of the magazine in the library’s collection. Finding design articles can be be achieved by using the Design & applied arts index (DAAI).
Later in their careers they began producing educational films which you can watch on DVD from the library.
You can see examples of Eames furniture in the Library Commons, their segmented base tables and famous shell chairs are clustered around the Laughing Goat.