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 and work[edit]

After her father's death, she moved East Coast to continue her studies. She studied Abstract Expressionist painting from 1931 to 1939 at the Bennett Women's College in Millbrook and at the Hofmann School in New York City under Hans Hofmann. She founded "The American Abstract Artists Group"[3] in 1936 and participated in the first exhibition of the American Abstract Artists in 1937 at Riverside Museum in New York. She 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. She enrolled in 1940 and learned a variety of arts, not limiting herself to abstract painting. She worked with Harry Bertoia, Eero Saarinen, Charles Eames and others on the display panels for the exhibition "Organic Design in Home Furnishings" at Museum of Modern Art.[4] In 1941 she married Charles Eames and the great "Charles and Ray Eames" partnership began. The design process between Ray and Charles was strongly collaborative. After marriage the couple moved to California to continue their molded plywood furniture design and, in a later period, plastic. The graphic and commercial artwork can be clearly attributed to Ray, she designed twenty-six cover designs for the journal Arts & Architecture during 1942 to 1948, and a major part of the Eames furniture advertisements at Herman Miller (since 1948).[5]

As a respected textile designer she also designed several textile patterns[6] during the mid-1940s. Her textile designs "Crosspatch" and "Sea things" were produced by Schiffer Prints. Two of her textile patterns were distinguished with awards in a textile competition (organised by MoMa). She worked on graphics for advertising, magazine covers, posters, timelines, game boards, invitations and business cards.

After Charles' death in 1978 the Eames Office was disbanded. She worked on several unfinished projects – e.g. a German version of the "Mathematica" exhibition, was as consultand to IBM, published books and was administor of the Eames archive and estate.[7]


"Anything I can do, Ray can do better"- Charles Eames[8]

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[8]

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.[8]

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.


  • Neuhart, Marilyn, Neuhart, John and Eames, Ray. Eames Design. The Work of the Office of Charles and Ray Eames. Abrahms, New York 1989 (ISBN 978-0810908796)
  • Neuhart, Marilyn and Neuhart, John. The Story of Eames Furniture (Bd 1: The Early Years, Bd 2: The Hermann Miller Age), Die Gestalten Verlag, Berlin 2010 (ISBN 978-3899552300)
  • Eisenbrand,Jochen. Ray Eames. Breuer, Gerda, Meer, Julia (ed): Women in Graphic Design, p. 152-163 and 437, Jovis, Berlin 2012 (ISBN 978-3-86859-153-8)
  • Kirkham, Pat. Charles and Ray Eames. Designers of the 21st Century. MIT Press, Boston 1998 (ISBN 978-0262611398)
  • Brandes, Uta Brandes. Citizen Office. Ideen und Notizen zu einer neuen Bürowelt. von Vegesack, Alexander (ed) Steidl Verlag, Goettingen 1994 (ISBN 3-88243-268-3)
  • Kunkel, Ulrike. Ray Eames - Design als Lebensform. Jürgs, Britta (ed) Vom Salzstreuer bis zum Automobil: Designerinnen, p. 126-139, AvivA Verlag, Berlin 2002, (ISBN 3-932338-16-2) (de., eng.)
  • Eames, Charles and Eames, Ray. Die Welt von Charles und Ray Eames. Ernst & Sohn, Berlin 1997 (ISBN 3-433-01814-6)
  • Prouvé, Jean. Charles & Ray Eames. Die großen Konstrukteure – Parallelen und Unterschiede. Vitra Design Museum, Weil am Rhein 2002, (ISBN 3-931936-37-6) (de., frz., engl.).



  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. ^ http://www.artcyclopedia.com/artists/eames_ray.html Ray Eames – Founding member of the American Abstract Artists group, 1936 artcyclopedia, (accessed April 1, 2015)
  4. ^ Women in Graphic Design. Jovis, Berlin. p. 437. ISBN 9783868591538. 
  5. ^ Women in Graphic Design. Jovis, Berlin. p. 437. ISBN 9783868591538. 
  6. ^ http://www.eamesoffice.com/catalog-category/textiles/ Eames textiles (accessed April 1, 2015)
  7. ^ Women in Graphic Design. Jovis, Berlin. p. 437. ISBN 9783868591538. 
  8. ^ Cite error: The named reference beautiful was invoked but never defined (see the help page).