Or is it? Catherine Ince curates ‘The World of Charles & Ray Eames’ at the Barbican Art Gallery in London, and speaks with Vitra magazine about the legacy of two of the world's most prolifically creative designers.
’The World of Charles & Ray Eames’ tells of not one, but of the many worlds created by the designer couple beginning in the 1940s – together or with prominent friends like Alexander Girard, George Nelson or Eero Saarinen. Their work and achievements made them key figures in American design. This year, the Barbican Art Gallery illuminates the complex and wide-ranging oeuvre of the Eames and devotes a major exhibition to their designs, ideas and life stories.
VM: Charles and Ray Eames have designed furniture, houses, created film and graphic art, arranged lectures and a lot more. In what way comes all of their varied work together?
CI: There are many characteristics and motifs that travel through the varied modes of expression used by Charles and Ray Eames throughout their lifetime. They sought to reflect the world around them and were passionate about all aspects of art, culture, science, history and technology. They used all tools at their disposal to explore and express their ideas, which generated an inter-disciplinary practice motivated by addressing the needs of society.
How important was their partnership for the creative processes? How did they differ from each other in terms of working methods?
Charles and Ray Eames’ partnership was integral to the creative processes established at the Eames Office. They trained as an architect and painter respectively, and while their backgrounds shaped their individual views on creativity they shared an intense curiosity about the natural and man-made world and an innate understanding of structure and form. Both felt that ‘everything is architecture’. Their different skills and interests complemented each other perfectly. Charles naturally excelled at photography and is most often found behind the camera, leading filming and photography shoots; Ray was an excellent art-director with an eye for detail and organisation. Together they produced elaborate and carefully-orchestrated photoshoots, film sets and showroom displays which reflect their interest in visual communication but also reveal their abiding interest in the richness of the material world.
Read the full interview in Vitra magazine.