They were certainly a lot more than chair designers. And no, Charles and Ray Eames were not brothers, as Phil had always thought before we finally sat down together to watch the documentary about the famous married designers. In design school, there was not a lot said about their lives outside of the famous chairs, but Charles and Ray Eames were more than designers- they were communicators who used images rather than words.
It's not often (if ever?) that I review a documentary as part of the Movie Monday feature, but after I finally watched the Eames documentary, I thought some of my creative blog friends might enjoy watching it too!
The documentary begins by detailing the evolution of the famous Eames chair, a collaboration between Charles Eames and Eero Saarinen. I studied this in school, but it was interesting to see how the project had actually failed according to their end goal, something that isn't talked about much when highlighting the careers of Eames and Saarinen. What a comfort, knowing such successful people began their careers with failure. In any case, the project brought Charles and Ray together, who soon married and started their own design office together.
The couple's main focus in the beginning of their joint careers was creating a simple chair of molded plywood that would be mass produced and easily affordable to the public. After lots more failures, they finally achieved their goal, and continued to design various styles of chairs which were then produced and distributed by Herman Miller.
Later, the couple, in conjunction with their staff (who often receives little, if any, credit for their work on Eames projects), moved onto other projects, like arm films, documentaries, and even educational film.
The documentary is interesting if you enjoy mid century design, and it's certainly encouraging to any designer or entrepreneur, but more so than that, it allows a glimpse into the personal lives of two eccentric people who shaped the face of American design in the 20th century. Ray, being a woman, was often dismissed for her involvement in projects, because the public just didn't understand that a woman could be a successful designer too. It's interesting to see how her usefulness in the office affected their relationship at every turn.
Oh, and if you think that modern designers have boring, sterile homes- think again! I loved taking a peek at Charles and Ray's warm home that was just brimming with Ray's quirky touches. Just as awesome are their playful portraits they made as a couple and with their staff. Talk about inspirational!
In closing, I would like to share some of Charles Eames's quotes that I wrote down through the documentary. And there are even more! That guy sure was clever.
"Anything i can do she can do better." (regarding Ray's involvement in the office)
"The container for your life can be simple, but that doesn't mean your life has to be simple."
"Take your pleasure seriously."
"Never let the blood show."