… once again I’m a day late and a dollar short, but that’s just the beginning…
Yesterday was the thirtieth and, oddly enough, the twentieth anniversaries of the deaths of legendary designers Charles and Ray Eames. Mostly known for their furniture design, their work also includes major contributions in industrial design, graphic design, architecture and film. Charles died August 21, 1978, Ray died on the same date, ten years later in 1988.
Architectural colleagues Charles Eames and Ray-Bernice Kaiser married in 1941 and moved to Los Angeles to open their own firm. In 1946, as part of the Arts & Architecture magazine's "Case Study" series that commissioned architects of the day to design and build inexpensive and efficient model homes, the groundbreaking Eames House design was selected. Built on a bluff overlooking the Pacific Ocean at 203 North Chautauqua Boulevard in the Pacific Palisades, and once a part of Will Rogers' estate, this unique house, also called Case Study House #8, used pre-fabricated steel parts and was hand-constructed in a matter of days. The structure was entirely constructed from "off-the-shelf" parts available from steel fabricator catalogs. However, immediately after the Second World War, steel was in very short supply, which explains the three year delay in construction. The Eames house was completed in 1949.
Working from their office located at 901 Washington Boulevard in Venice, Charles and Ray Eames’ hit their stride in the 1950’s in modern furniture design. Their landmark and highly collectible furniture includes early molded plywood chairs and their innovative use of materials, such as the fiberglass and plastic resin. Aside from the molded-plywood DCW (Dining Chair Wood), other classic furniture designs include the DCM (Dining Chair Metal with a plywood seat), the Eiffel Plastic Armchair and side chair from 1959, the Eames Lounge Chair and ottoman from 1956, the Aluminum Group furniture series and the wire mesh chairs designed for office furniture manufacturer Herman Miller, 1962’s Eames tandem sling seating, as well as the Eames Chaise designed specifically for film director Billy Wilder in 1968. At the time of Charles’ death they were working on what would be their final design, the Eames Sofa, which went into production in 1984.
As a teeny bopper, I found an Eames chair one night as I was dumpster diving up on the nicest end of Los Feliz Blvd. I had no idea what it was, nor its worth; it was just a cool looking chair I found in a trash bin. I dragged it home and for several years it sat in my Dad's garage where he used it as a stool and occasional work bench while he restored his 1934 Ford convertible. I presume the chair eventually found its way back to a dumpster … once again my ignorance led me astray… a day late, a dollar short.