Birthday: December 15, 1912
Who Was Ray Eames?
Ray Kaiser Eames was the creative partner of her husband, Charles Eames. She was best known for her innovative contributions in graphic and textile design, architecture, furniture, and photographic arts.
Ray and her husband Charles established the Eames Office, most famous for their unique furniture designs and production, which are still available today.
Ray Eames was one of the most prominent American design partnerships of the twentieth century. Furthermore, she was posthumously acknowledged in various museum shows, documentaries, and art and design literature.
Five Facts About Ray Eames
- Her early plywood sculptures were behind the success of their furniture designs.
Before the Eameses’ plywood furniture success, Ray experimented in innovating sculptures using the same method and materials. Her extraordinary sculptures have helped the Eameses improve their strategies of shaping plywood into unique curves.
- She became in charge of their designs’ prototyping process when her husband was away for work.
According to Esther McCoy, an architecture historian, Ray managed to gather the materials herself for constructing a chair. They used molding plywood for chairs and splints during the war.
- She has designed abstract covers for a magazine.
She made around 26 abstract covers for the Arts and Architecture magazine and considered it her second career.
- Her famous textile designs are still available today.
In 1947, Ray was recognized as the creator of bold geometric textile designs that continued to be manufactured for over 70 years.
Ray loved to collect objects.
She became obsessed with collecting various objects, such as leftover knickknacks from film shoots, pint-sized dishware, yarn balls, and unwrapped presents because of their beautiful packaging.
Inspirational Quotes from Ray Eames
“What works good is better than what looks good, because what works good lasts.”
“The details are not the details, the details make the product.”
“Design depends largely on constraints.”
“Take your pleasure seriously.”
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Ray Eames Biography
Personal Life and Education
Ray Eames was born on December 15, 1912, in Sacramento, California. Her father was Alexander Kaiser, a Jewish man who owned a theatre named “The Empress Theatre” until 1920.
Her father also worked as an insurance salesman and later decided to put up an office to sustain their family’s needs. Ray’s mother was Edna Burr Kaiser, an Episcopalian, and she also had an older brother named Maurice. Both of them were raised as Episcopalians.
As a young girl, her family lived in an apartment but later transferred to a bungalow house. In her early years, her parents taught her values that she applied to her actions throughout her life.
An example of this is the value and significance of objects, most of which she used to create extraordinary furniture and toy designs. Another would be the value of nature’s enjoyment.
In February 1932, Ray Eames graduated from Sacramento High School. Her interest in arts and crafts led her to become a member of her school’s Art Club and decorating committee. She finished her college degree from the May Friend Bennett Women’s College in Millbrook in 1933. After this, she also studied abstract expressionism in New York City.
Ray Eames’ career started with painting in the 1930s. She was a member of the American Abstract Artists group in 1936 and displayed her masterpiece during their first show in Manhattan.
At the time, famous galleries have refused to cater paintings, so the AAA group decided to promote the paintings themselves. Today, the Whitney Museum of American Art has one of Ray’s painting collections.
Aside from this, Ray also studied at Cranbrook Academy to explore different kinds of art forms. This is where Ray and Charles met, as Charles was the head of the industrial design department. Later on, their partnership and career in architecture and design became successful.
Moreover, once the Eameses Office was launched, it became one of the most influential partnerships to date. Ray and Charles got married in 1941 and transferred to California to continue their business of creating exceptional furniture designs.
One of their outstanding contributions was during World War ll wherein the United States Navy hired them to design and manufacture molded plywood stretchers and splints.
Another highlight of their careers was when Evans Products started manufacturing set plywood furniture, and their chair was called the “chair of the century.”
Awards and Achievements
Some of the awards Ray Eames had earned with her husband Charles Eames during her lifetime were:
- 1960- Emmy Awards (Graphics)
- 1961- Kaufmann International Design Award
- 1977- Women of the Year, California Museum of Science, Los Angeles
- 1979- Royal Institute of British Architects, Gold Medal
- 1978- American Institute of Architects, 25 Year Awards
- 1957- 100th Anniversary Gold Medal, American Institute of Architects
Vitra, a Swiss furniture company, renamed a street as “Ray-Eames-Strasse 1” to honor Ray Eames during her 100th birthday celebration.
Additionally, a 3,300 square-foot exhibition opened in Sacramento on February 23, 2013, named “Ray Eames: A Century of Modern Design.” It was open for a year and showcased Ray’s various works before she married Charles in 1941.