It was unknown at his birth on June 17, 1907 that Charles Ormond Eames Jr. would grow to leave his permanent footprint in the world of design and architecture. It could not have been guessed that he would live an extraordinary life, and that his avant garde approach to creation would be studied by his contemporaries for generations.
His first interest in design and architecture emerged when at the age of 14 he began working at a local steel company part time while attending high school.
Seeing the capabilities of steel to be put to many practical uses led him to wonder what artistic potentials steel provided.
Later he would express his passion for new architecture with the use of steel when he designed and created the Eames house #8, one of his most popular architectural successes.
After high school, Charles Eames went on to study at the Washington University in St. Louis.
However, his studies there were ended abruptly under circumstances that are debated down to this day. Some have said that it was due to his over extending himself with work as well as classes that led to his leaving the university, while it has also been alleged that an architecture professor claimed his ‘views were to modern’ and Charles was encouraged to leave the school.
Not long after his brief stint at Washington University, Charles was persuaded by renowned architect Eliel Saarinen to come to Michigan and study at the Cranbrook Academy of Art.
During his time at Cranbrook, Charles would meet two people who would change his life and greatly impact his art. It was at this time that he developed a close friendship with Eero Saarinen, also an uprising star of the architecture world. They worked together on many projects and were good friends all of their lives. He also met the woman that would become his wife and life partner, Ray.
Ray – Bernice Kaiser was born on December 15, 1912 in Sacramento California. In 1933 Ray lived in New York and began studying with Hans Hoffman, the ground breaking abstract artist.
Perhaps it was here that Ray’s passion for straight lines and the use of primary colors began and would develop into her designs. The famous Eames house that she and Charles would design together could easily be connected in style to the works of Hoffman.
It was in 1941 that Charles and Ray married and began their incredible life together.
They moved to Los Angeles, California and lived there for the rest of their lives. They worked in architecture, furniture design, industrial design and even film. Many of their design successes are attributed to Charles, but it is quite evident that Ray was his life and business partner, and a major influence to all he did.
Charles Eames died August 21, 1978 while on a business trip. Ray Eames died ten years later to the day on August 21, 1988. While their deaths were a great loss to the artistic community, evidence of their legacy has become an intrinsic part of our society today.
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