Twenty years ago, if you went up to a twentysomething and tried to strike up a conversation about design, you probably wouldn’t get very far. If you mentioned Ray and Charles Eames, the twentysomething would undoubtedly give you a blank look suggesting, “Aim what?” These days, the work of the prolific husband and wife duo are known far and wide, more and more by younger people and anyone who wants to buy nice things for their home or apartment. I would venture to say that if you showed a teenager a photo of the Eames’ Lounge Chair or any of their Shell Chairs, they would have seen it before. Why is this? Because the influence and creations of the Eames are everywhere now.
From the Internet and ability for more information to be shared, these Los Angeles designers works have moved beyond our small, local world, into the mainstream. For instance, a simple shopping trip to Ikea or Target or CB2 will bring you many affordable and modern deals, some of which are directly inspired by the Eames. Office chairs and lounges along with any circle-and-line metallic racks from these establishments are directly influenced by Charles and Ray’s 1958 Aluminum Group Chairs and their 1953 Hang-It-All coat rack. You can also find their work in even more common places: airports, where they undoubtedly inspired all group seating areas with their comfortable and sexy Tandem Sleek Seating of 1962.
In higher echelons, you can literally get your hands on their creations. From Design Within Reach to the original Eames furniture maker Herman Miller (who worked with the couple in the forties to create many items), you can get you hands on various “influenced” products to their direct handicraft (recreations of the originals, naturally). Similarly, Heath Ceramics, House Industries, and Jonathan Adler draw inspiration from their sleek modern creations, creating both blocks and animal wares at the cost of a pretty penny or two.
Popular culture has also very much embraced the Eames, whose works are constantly making cameos in everything. In tangential design worlds, their chairs are frequent guests in the architectural spreads of Architectural Digest and Dwell and even fashion campaigns (like Prada’s 2012 resort wear, where all the models were seated in tan Aluminum Group Chairs). Television shows like Frasier, Mad Men, Gossip Girl, Friends, House, and even Family Guy have sat characters in their famous 1956 Lounge and Ottoman, all of which are used to color characters as successful persons with taste. Movies like Tron: Legacy and even Adam Sandler’s Click have done the same, stealing some silver screen time for design (even if it is in a movie where Sandler gets a remote control that can, literally, control everything). Also, this.
For more on Charles and Ray Eames (and to hear about their new documentary), check out the Pacific Standard Time blog!
Above: Charles and Ray Eames on a Motorcycle, Charles and Ray Eames, 1948. © 2011 Eames Office, LLC (eamesoffice.com).