My love affair with Charles and Ray Eames began when I moved to Boston in 1996. I moved to the city sight unseen and only knew one other person. This friend generously allowed me to stay with him until I found my own place. He was a designer by way of Art Center, working for a technology company in Cambridge, and living in the North End. One evening, while we were deep in conversation about design (or, more appropriately, as he was opening my eyes to the incredible world of design), his eyes lit up and he said, "You have to watch something." He slipped a cassette into the VCR titled, The Powers of Ten, and I was hooked.
I finally, finally took the time to watch the recent Eames documentary, Eames: The Architect and the Painter. Many of you warned me that I would love the movie, and you were so right. I loved the film for all the obvious reason you might suspect - an in depth, behind the scenes look at the inner workings and life of Charles and Ray Eames. However, the movie made me realize that there was so much I didn't know about the design duo. I always assumed that Charles and Ray were a two-person team, but in fact the Eames studio, located in Venice, California, was a collaborative work studio that employed many designers, all designing products under the Eames name (a cooperative, [wink]).
Charles actually collaborated with Eero Saarinen on the first molded plywood prototype. After many failed attempts and one finished piece that couldn't be effectively manufactured, Saarinen scraped the project. Not until Charles met Ray, and with the help of other designers in the Eames studio, was the molded chair completed, which is still in production today.
"Anything I can do, Ray can do better." - Charles Eames
Throughout his successful design career, there were many in the industry that wanted to label Charles. Was he a designer? Was he an architect? Was he a film maker? Charles didn't see himself as a specialist, but as generalists who was constantly curious about the world around him.
"You sell your expertise, you have a limited repertoire. You sell your ignorance, it's an unlimited repertoire. [Charles] was selling his ignorance and his desire to learn about a subject. And the journey of him not knowing to knowing was his work." - Richard Saul Wurman, TED founder
There is so much more I could share about the movie, the creative journey of Charles and Ray Eames, and the Eames studio, not to mention the brilliance that was Ray Eames. However, at the risk of writing a short story, I will simply (and quite aggressively) encourage you to watch the film. It will move you and inspire you. Tell me, do you have a favorite designer?
"Take your pleasure seriously." - Charles Eames