Charles and Ray Eames

Charles Eames (1907-1978) and Bernice ‘Ray’ Eames (1912-1988) are known to be of the greatest contributors of modern architecture, design and fashion of the 20th Century. Their cross-disciplinary creativity was the result of two artists coming together and working with what was accessible to them at the time. In so doing, the couple created revolutionary furniture and awarded them various prizes. Their designs were created to be affordable and yet of a stylish and high quality. Their designs were practical and elegant, being used in airports, households and even schools. 

Primarily working with molding plywood during World War II, aiming to bridge the divisions between design and comfort, Charles and Ray Eames began working with furniture as a primary medium of expression and as an opportunity to create functional objects that could be used. They were thus commissioned by the United States Navy to create supplies from their technique of molding plywood and fiberglass as a beginning to their creative careers. After the war, they continued to work with innovative materials and are known for pioneering the use of fiberglass, plastic resin and mesh in furniture design. They were known art-lovers and are said to have a catalogued collection of approximately 350,000 slides that they called their ‘cabinet of curiosity’. The Eameses contributed to design of all kinds, even children’s toys and puzzles. They even thought about low cost housing developments that were quick and easy to construct. Their interests spanned across disciplines, from photography to designing exhibitions and furniture, leading them to be featured and known throughout Europe and the United States of America.

Charles and Ray Eames, RAR Rocker (circa 1950) H: 68 W: 63 D: 70, fiberglass, metal and wood, Zenith Plastics USA

The RAR Rocker is an iconic piece by Charles and Ray Eames, displaying key aspects of their work. The use of fiberglass as a material for furniture was extremely unusual and innovative, while its curved and molded shape is typical of the Eames look. In 1950, the original metal design was altered and updated to use fiberglass for the main seating body, while retaining the metal supporting structure that connects the curved wooden rockers. Charles and Ray Eames were constantly developing and altering the designs in search of true comfort and pristine design. The very title of the piece exemplifies their utilitarian approach, simply describing the object: Rocker height, Armchair, Rocking base. The chairs were designed in such a way that they can be used in various situations, from rocking babies to sleep and being dinner table seating. The versatility of the design speaks to the resourcefulness and ingenuity of its two designers in Charles and Ray Eames, who constantly strove to develop and create better designs.