February 28, 2012 | Fox Architects | Uncategorized

The Cinematography was Excellent – Charles and Ray Eames

This past weekend I watched the documentary Eames:  The Architect and the Painter which documents the body of work of one of my favorite husband & wife design teams, Charles and Ray Eames.  I enjoyed the film very much and strongly recommend it. 

What fascinates me about Charles (who incidently dropped out of architecture school from Washington University – my alma mater) and Ray is their highly experimental approach to design.  He did not merely focus on buildings, and she was never content with painting alone; instead they both explored multiple media, including film-making (Powers of Ten is still a classic and if you haven’t seen this 10-minute film you should watch it today), furniture design (for which they are most famous), and graphic design.  One of my favorite moments in the film was when a former colleague of the Eames’ describes a dinner at their home in which the post-meal “dessert” turned out to be an artfully-arrange bouquet of fresh-cut flowers.  The interviewee made a comment about how strange he thought his hosts were at the time, and recalls stopping at the Dairy Queen on his way home that evening.

But all joking aside, the kind of rigor that the Eames put into their practice is nothing short of inspiring.  When they had an idea about bent plywood furniture they committed to tackling the challenge, and when the military called with the request for the development of bent plywood leg splints, they worked even harder towards a solution.  In the film, one former employee recalls the Eames’ studio as “Disneyland” – in reference to the highly-experimental and child-like atmosphere in the office.  This kind of constantly-rejuvenated approach to work is what is most inspiring and refreshing about these mid-century design superstars.

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