Charles and Ray Eames were a fascinating, dynamic couple whose partnership and marriage thrived on a creative, kinetic energy of art, design and craftsmanship. The Eames’ didn’t just design a couple of famous pieces. They looked at things and life, in an extraordinary way….and together created an entire design aesthetic which not only survives today in it’s present form, but has influenced countless other designers.
I pay homage to them now….but back in 2003 some would gasp in horror at the sacrilege I committed to their chief icon, but more about that later.
Have you heard the joke about the gay couple who were divorcing after spending decades together? Everything was going smoothly as they divided all the assets they had accumulated over the years ….until it came down to who got the Eames Chair, and then things got ugly.
“Wha..?” you ask. “Who…?”
The Eames chair silly. It’s a celebrity all it’s own, an icon of style displayed proudly in the homes of erudite homos all across the country. A symbol of good taste. It even had a prominent place on the sitcom Frasier every week.
See? NOW you know what I’m writing about! “The Eames Chair”.
It’s a chair…a design that we all recognize but probably know very little about.
Charles Eames was born in 1907, and developed an interest in engineering and architecture. Ray Kaiser Eames (his second wife), was born in California in the mid 1920s. She studied painting in New York before moving on to Cranbrook Academy where she met and assisted Charles in preparing designs for the Museum of Modern Art's "Organic Furniture Competition." Their designs, created by molding plywood into complex curves, won them the two first prizes. Their work is still evident in products you and I use every day…that’s how powerful it is.
Now to the horror.
In 2003, I was throwing a huge club party and we needed furniture for the VIP room. I wanted something glam…and on my way into town I happened to glance into a side alley and saw…."The Chair". I didn’t know anything about Eames furniture other than I loved the chair…and there it was, literally outside someone’s garage by the trash cans. I did a quick U-turn and knocked on the front door of the house. An old woman answered the door and told me I could have it for free. So I loaded it in my SUV and headed home. It was in almost perfect condition, and you know what I did to that beautiful chair...that style icon? I reupholstered it in white pleather…spray painted the wood silver, coated it with GLUE and dumped glitter on it.
It was a homosexual act of vandalism. But the chair was a hit in the VIP room with everyone taking a turn in it.
Today…I cringe when I think of what I did to that chair….but now I know….and now YOU know a little more about the history of Eames.
Watch the full documentary (for free), Charles & Ray Eames: The Architect and the Painter
The Los Angeles County Museum of Art is showing an exhibit titled “Lounging With The Eameses” and have a fascinating page with photos and videos at:
Today's Daily Aural: