Charles & Ray Eames (United States )


Ray and Charles Eames are two of the most important designers of the 20th century. Early in their careers together, Charles and Ray identified the need for affordable, yet high-quality furniture for the average consumer - furniture that could serve a variety of uses. For forty years the couple experimented with ways to meet this challenge, designing flexibility into their compact storage units and collapsible sofas for the home; seating for stadiums, airports, and schools; and chairs for virtually anywhere. Their chairs were designed in four materials - molded plywood, fiberglass-reinforced plastic, bent and welded wire mesh, and cast aluminum. An ethos of functionalism informed all of their furniture designs. "What works is better than what looks good," Ray said. "The looks good can change, but what works, works." Their colleagues were Harry Bertoia, Eero Saarinen and Florence Knoll. The Eames' collaborated with Saarinen on a molded-plywood chair for a competion at MOMA 1940, and won two prizes. Charles and Rays interest in new techniques led them to experiment with fiberglass reinforced plastics with a one-piece fiberglass-shell chair, which was much admired. They worked closely with the manufacturer Herman Miller throughout the fifties and sixties.