Ray-Bernice Alexandra Kaiser Eames was a renowned American designer, filmmaker, as well as artist. Many of the iconic designs of the twentieth century are attributed to Ray Eames along with her husband Charles, who also had a wonderful career in the same field though now deceased.
Having lived in several different cities during her tender age, Ray Eames was born in Sacramento, California then moved to New York in 1933. This is where she first studied abstract painting with Hans Hoffman that eventually led her to furniture designing later on. Ray Eames began her studies at the Canbrook Academy of Art in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan towards the end of 1940 where she eventually met her husband to be Charles Eames. They both had similar career options and were married the following year and settled in Los Angeles, California.
Ray Eames and her husband Charles led an exemplary career in design as well as architecture. Both Ray and Charles Eames now feature in the new series “By Architects.” It is an innovative project whose main objective is to highlight objects as well as furniture designed by some of the most acknowledged architects of the 20th century.
Ray Eames along with her husband Charles are best known for their contributions to industrial design, film, photography, and furniture design especially the Eames chair, as well as architecture. After getting married in 1941, they both moved to California. It’s here their furniture design career in molded plywood all began. Earlier on, both Ray and Charles found the need to come up with high-quality furniture and yet affordable.
For many years, the Eames’ tried different ways to meet this challenge. They designed chairs used in all kinds of places ranging from collapsible sofas for homes, chairs for airports, stadiums, schools as well as offices. Most of these chairs were designed in four materials for Herman Miller. They were designed in cast aluminum, bent and welded wire mesh, as well as fiberglass-reinforced plastic.
According to Ray Eames, the main issue was to look for a seat and back form that comfortably supports the human body using flexible materials instead of cushioned upholstery or three dimensionally shaped surfaces. According to Ray Eames, what works is better than what looks good since what works, works, but what looks good can change.
The immediate concern Ray Eames had was to come up with not only a single shell that would be comfortable without cushions, but could also be mass-produced. This concept was experimented with the Eames’ along with their colleagues throughout the early 40s. The Eames’ developed chairs for the museum of modern arts using organic designs.
Ray Eames along with her husband’s fiberglass chair solved the problem of making a seat out of a single body-fitting shell. It became even more alluring to the Eames’ than plywood with the progressive quality as well as the mobility of the fiberglass material compared to stamped metal or plywood.
Zenith Plastics had used fiberglass to reinforce plastic on airplane radar domes that turned out to be a big success. The Eames’ and Zenith re-conceptualized the use of the fiberglass material that created one of the very first one-piece plastic chairs that had an exposed surface rather than the upholstered surface.
Charles and Ray Eames lounge chair