Ray Eames, a design icon
Celebrating Women's History Month at MEL/ARCH
Bernice Alexandra “Ray” Eames was an American artist and designer. She worked alongside with her husband, Charles Eames, in California. Together they formed the Eames Office, a place where they could experiment with their design expertise and creativity.
The Eames are most famously known for their furniture pieces and for the design of their own house, Case Study 8. Along with furniture design and low-cost pre-fab houses, the couple also designed toys, museum exhibitions, and created more than 100 short, avant-garde and educational films.
Ray’s contributions to the partnership have only come to light in recent years. Having studied with Hans Hofmann for six years, she was quite the artistic force in the Eames Office. Even though Charles always gave credit to Ray, the public constantly saw Charles as the driving force. This was a point frequently underlined by Charles, who spoke about the design process in terms of “we,” “us” and “ours”. At the time, midcentury design was so heavily masculine, perhaps that is reason why Ray wasn’t always publicly credited for her contributions. However, Ray felt like Charles had a way of communicating things in which people would pay attention. She was seemingly content to let her husband speak for their work.
After Charles’ passing, Ray dedicated all of her time to organize and archive their lifetime body of work. Decades later, their work remains the benchmark for designers. Ray and Charles Eames left a vital legacy that continues to be cherished. The Eames family has placed the Eames House in a foundation for future generations to enjoy and has been designated a National Historic Landmark. Located in Santa Monica, the Eames Office continues to celebrate the creative legacy of Ray and Charles Eames.
Picture credits: Eames Office and Eames Foundation