Reading a recently published article, one of numerous across the web and printed world, it enthused that Charles and Ray Eames could be described as a ‘painter that didn’t paint’ and an ‘architect that didn’t build’. It may certainly be true that nether are world renowned today for those two disciplines, but the article has a flawed one-dimensional view of the work of Charles and Ray Eames.
Both Charles and Ray built their creative foundation on their early work in those fields and forever utilized those skills through their working career. Must one only be known for their paintings if they are a painter? Ray continued to use her artistic skills to great effect, through artwork of many various projects and countless media. Charles painted too in his earlier years and did submit building designs for countless competitions. One thing we know is that the artistic skills of each, fused together, were incredibly important in the potent working career of Charles and Ray Eames and indeed were perhaps the reason for the great success it brought.
Owned by then family friend John Entenza, the Arts and Architecture periodical was an especially important journal chronicling the forever changing landscape of the creative arts in Southern California and beyond. He took over the helm in the early war years (1940) and transformed the content and status of the magazine to the point where it became a necessity for anyone connected within the business.
The rise of the Arts and Architecture magazine presented a wonderful opportunity for Ray Eames whom was invited to design eye catching and interesting front covers. Between 1942 and 1947 Ray would go on to create 26 of the monthly front cover designs and they were a great testament to her artwork skills. Each was entirely different and very much in keeping with the modern and experimental approach that Entenza was promoting.
The original Arts and Architecture magazines have become very collectible, especially as they are also responsible in large part for the case study house program, which the Eames House was part of. The 26 journals featuring Ray Eames artwork are especially sought after, rare and valuable.
Ray Eames also turned her hand to producing designs that were ideal for fabric. Some of these would be utilized and released both at the time (through the Mil-art Company) and today (via Maharam) in retrospect. Some of the most well-known designs include the Eames Dots, Circles, Crosspatch and Sea Things (also used on the Waverly products trays and side table). These almost whimsical designs are beautiful textile designs which have never aged.
Charles Eames always had a love for photography and film making. What started as a small-time hobby and side art became an almost full-time endeavor as the years went by. What may have started as fun personal projects or side films to release along with products (such as the fiberglass chairs and Eames Lounge Chair) it went on to producing award winning short films with high value educational content. With well over 80 films to his name, it once again demonstrated that there were no bounds to Charles’ creative boundaries.
Both Charles and Ray were instrumental in the release of books and or artwork covers for books. One such famous cover is that of the Portfolio Magazine of 1950 in which one of Charles’ Kite designs adorned the front. They were involved in the release of the ‘The World of Franklin & Jefferson’ which accompanied the museum exhibit and ‘A Computer Perspective’ to accompany an expo and film of the same name designed by Charles. A book was also written in unison with Charles and Ray entitled 'The Powers Of Ten' to accompany perhaps their most famous film. They also helped to design a book to accompany the National Fisheries and Aquarium as well as design other covers such as that for friend and author Adele Starbird and her book ‘Many Strings to my Lute’.
Charles and Ray Eames did release a book with Herman Miller entitled ‘Images of Early America’ a collection of original photographs shot by Charles in which he felt he encapsulated the life and times of the US within a still frame image. The Eames Office also devised beautifully presented timeline artworks in which they captured the works of Herman Miller, the work of Charles and Ray Eames themselves as well as Mathematics, which was to accompany an expo of the same.