Eames Retrospective Shows They're More Than Just Chairs
If you’re not in design school, the name “Eames” might just make you think about chairs. But, Ray and Charles Eames were more than just a really, really pretty seating products; the designers were among the most important to ever live. From their process to their philosophy, few realms of design are untouched by the married couple’s legacy.
Starting on October 14th and running until February 14th, The Barbican in London is holding a retrospective of the duo called “The World of Ray and Charles Eames.” The exhibit not only presents their work, it also gives a glance into their relationship and life together with personal letters, photographs, and videos also being displayed. From the molded plywood chairs that garnered them fame to their work with the Navy and everything in between, the retrospective shows exactly why everyone still talks about Eames.
The Eames’ remain so relevant because of their ideology, which involved looking at design as a solution to a problem, not a means of making luxury good. In “Design Q&A,” a short film about the Eames ideology featuring the designers answering questions about their work, when asked “What are the boundaries of design?” Charles counters with “What are the boundaries of problems?”
The Eames philosophy comes from a place of just wanting to make the world a better place, to fix problems, to make products accessible. Although now an Eames chair can really break the bank, you can see their ethos reflected in companies like Ikea or even Target — anywhere that mass produces easy-to-use, pretty, problem solving products. Would Apple be anything like it is now if Eames hadn’t come before it? Probably not.
Even without factoring in their ideological importance, the actual designs of Eames are impossible to ignore. Minimalist but playful, they’re ubiquitous in popular culture: making appearances in everything from Mad Men to The Big Lebowski. The Eames name, design and ideology are all impossible to avoid and thankfully they’re moving design — and society — towards a more democratic, beautiful place.
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