Here at Visual Jill, we are fans of many designers, past and present. But the duo of Charles and Ray Eames holds a special place in our hearts. The Eames’ core philosophies — that design should be for the masses, not for the elite; and that good design is important for the commonplace as well as the complex — are truths that we try to adopt in our own work. We also use the Eames beautiful, functional pieces in our own homes and design plans.
The Eames are famous for their innovative molded-plywood techniques that led to the design and manufacturing of a line of chairs, tables and screens. While these are valuable vintage items today, they were affordable and accessible when originally created in 1945. Below, top is the Molded Plywood Lounge Chair, and bottom is the Leather and Molded-Wood Lounge Chair and Ottoman.
Here we’ve used the same two chairs in our design work.
Below right, you can see the Eames molded-plywood screen. On the left is another design revolution: the fiberglass-reinforced plastic armchair. It was the first one-piece plastic chair with an exposed, rather than upholstered, surface.
These plastic chairs were eventually offered in vinyl and upholstered versions as well. Below is one of our coveted blue vinyl Eames armchairs, in front of our beloved screen.
When it comes to good design, Charles Eames said, “The real questions are: Does it solve a problem? Is it serviceable? How is it going to look in ten years?” By creating furniture that could be easily mass-produced, was comfortable and still looks good over 50 years later, he met — and surpassed — his own requirements.
Note: If you’re in LA, be sure to catch the “Living In a Modern Way” exhibition at the LA County Museum of Art, which studies California mid-century modern design — including pieces from the Eames collection.
Eames furniture images from The Work of Charles and Ray Eames: A Legacy of Invention, published by Harry N. Abrams Inc.