Ray Eames

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Ray Kaiser Eames (Ray-Bernice Alexandra Kaiser Eames) (December 15, 1912 – August 21, 1988) was an American artist, designer, and filmmaker. Along with her husband Charles Eames she is responsible for groundbreaking contributions in the field of architecture. furniture design, industrial design, manufacturing and the photographic arts.[1]

Early life[edit]

She was born to Alexander and Edna Burr Kaiser in Sacramento, California. She spent her early childhood years with her parents in their apartment, and then moved to a Bungalow outside of the town. Her parents taught her the quality of enjoyment which later led to inventions in furniture design and toys. Her parents also instilled the value of enjoyment of nature in her.[2]

Education[edit]

After her father's death, she moved East Coast to continue her studies. She graduated from Bennett Women's College in Millbrook in 1933. She went to New York City with an interest to learn from "the wonderful painting teacher" her friends had studied under and recommended to her. Under Hans Hofmann, she studied Abstract Expressionist painting. She enjoyed her time of learning under Hans Hofmann, and viewed him as a great teacher. She founded "The American Abstract Artists Group" in 1936, and lived alone in New York City until she was called home to be with her ailing mother before she died in 1940.

Ben Baldwin, an architect and friend, recommended "Cranbrook Academy of Art" in Bloomfield, Michigan. During her period at Cranbrook, Ray learned a variety of arts, not limiting herself to abstract painting. She assisted Charles Eames and Eero Saarinen in preparing designs for the Museum of Modern Art's "Organic Furniture Competition". The design won them two first prizes. Soon after, "34 years old, single and broke"[3] Charles Eames proposed to her in a handwritten letter, professing his love and asking the size of her finger. Their marriage in 1941 began the great "Charles and Ray Eames" partnership. The Eameses moved to California after marriage to continue their molded plywood furniture design.

Philosophy[edit]

"Anything I can do, Ray can do better"- Charles Eames[3]

Ray Eames had a joyful and rigorous work ethic at the "Eames office". She called it "shop"- a place where they worked and did early production work. At the office, they employed local people, war veterans, and housewives. Eames office was a diversified workplace. The Eameses also believed in "learning by doing"- before introducing a new idea at the Eames Office, Charles and Ray explored needs and constraints of the idea extensively.

Not limiting themselves to furniture design, Ray and Charles developed a leg split for the using the material they had for the furniture in the guest bedroom of their apartment. With the introduction of plywood splits, they were able to replace metal traction splints that had side effects of gangrene and stopped circulation.

"I never gave up painting, I just changed my palette"- Ray Eames[3]

During this time, though Ray was more involved in running the "Eames Office" and furniture design, she continued to develop her love for painting. Her textile designs "Crosspatch" and "Sea things" were produced by Schiffer Prints. She worked on graphics for advertising, magazine covers, posters, timelines, game boards, invitations and business cards.

Eames House[edit]

"Modern Architecture in not a style. It's a philosophy of life. A waking up to the fact of the living surrounded by forms because of the industrial revolution" - Ray Eames.[3]

In 1949, Ray and Charles proposed the design of "Eames House" as a part of the "Case Study House Program" for Arts and Architecture magazine. The Pacific Palisades house was reflection of the needs of the household of Ray and Charles, and represented a young married couple wanting to integrate a work-life-entertainment space harmoniously with the site. The house was documented before, during and after construction for the publication.

In 1988, Ray Eames died in Los Angeles. She is buried next to Charles Eames Calvary Cemetery in St. Louis.

References[edit]

  1. ^ "", Library of Congress, Exhibitions. "The Work of Charles and Ray Eames: A Legacy of Invention". http://www.loc.gov/. Library of Congress. Retrieved 8 March 2015. 
  2. ^ Kirkham, Pat (1995). Charles and Ray Eames : designers of the twentieth century. Cambridge, Mass: MIT Press. p. 31. ISBN 9780262111997. 
  3. ^ a b c d Details, Beautiful. Eames. Ammo Books, LLC. ISBN 9781623260316.