Charles and Ray Eames

Eames: The Architect and the Painter. A Documentary.

Onr of the things I miss about living in a much larger city like LA is the fact that they get films mid-sized cities like KC hardly ever get. Case in point, “Eames: The Architect and the Painter” which will be opening in select cities on November 18th”.

The film looks inside the lives of the famous designers Charles and Ray Eames, exploring their lives through interviews with family members, design historians and archival material. The documentary contains never before seen behind the scenes footage of the designers at work as well as interviews.

The film is Narrated by actor James Franco, this is the first film to be made about Charles and Ray since their deaths. The documentary takes an in-depth look into their personal relationship as well as their artistic collaboration.

A full review of the film can be found here at  The Hollywood Reporter or here at Variety.

Eames: The Architect and the Painter will open at the IFC Center in New York and the Laemmle Music Hall in Los Angeles on November 18, and at the Balboa Theatre in San Francisco on December 2. Other dates in select cities around the country will follow. If you are like me, you can also catch it on PBS on December 19 as part of the PBS American Masters series.


The Eames Lounge Chair: An Icon of Modern Design.

When Charles and Ray Eames arrived in Los Angeles California in 1941, they turned a spare room in their apartment into a design workshop so they could  experiment with molded plywood forms. Their end goal was to develop a way of mass producing  well designed affordable furniture.

During the Second World War, Charles and Ray Eames developed a process of making molded plywood splints for the U.S. Navy. It was this combination of experience and experimentation that led to the design two of their most famous chairs, the Eames Molded Plywood Recliners.

At some point in the early 1950’s the Eames’ decided to develop a larger upholstered lounge chair, similar to those found in men’s clubs but with a more contemporary aesthetic. Charles Eames says that “the motivation behind most of the things we’ve done was either that we wanted them ourselves, or we wanted to give them to someone else, and the way to make that practical is to have that gift manufactured… the lounge chair for example, was really done as a present for a friend, Director Billy Wilder, and has since been reproduced.”

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The now iconic Eames Lounge Chair and ottoman  has since been in continuous production by Herman Miller ever since. The molded plywood shell finished with walnut veneer, and black leather upholstery became a status symbol. The chair over the last decade has been depicted by magazines, newspapers and broadcast as a symbol of power for movie moguls, celebrities,  powerful businessmen, and the eternally hip, for those who seek to project and air of informal, but total control. Since its inception, this chair has evolved to become the height of luxury and comfort and one of the most important and enduring design icons of the 20th century.

This book examines the designs of Charles and Ray Eames with beautiful photographs and illustrations, and documents the evolution of the Lounge Chair from its origins to  the current version produced by Herman Miller. The book and places the chair in its cultural, historical and social context, and includes insightful interviews of people involved in making the Lounge Chair and observations on its transformation into a Modernist icon.

Charles Eames was often asked to explain the Chair. One of his most quoted lines was that he wanted it to have “the warm receptive look of a well-worn first baseman’s mitt.” Anyone who has owned the Lounge Chair will tell you — it is timeless and it simply gets better with age.

The original Chair has evolved to include a larger version for taller people with leather in chocolate, and a white leather version that was originally conceived by Charles and Ray Eames, but not originally put into production.

The Eames Lounge Chair: An Icon of Modern Design, by Pat Kirkham, Thomas Hine, David Hanks, Martin Eidelberg, Hardcover, Dimensions: 25 x 25 cm, Pages: 192
Published by, BIS Publishers
ISBN: 9789063691356
Buy it here: Amazon

Edward Wormley for Dunbar

“Furniture is needed for practical reasons, and because it must be there, it may as well be as pleasant as possible to look at, and in a less definable psychological way, comforting to the spirit.”

A few years back I did a freelance job for Dunbar Furniture. It was  my first real introduction to the furniture designed by Edward Wormley, and I instantly fell in love with his understated and elegant design aesthetic.

Born in Rochelle, IL near Chicago. Edward Wormley came from humble beginnings, during the late 1920’s his financial state caused him to struggle  to stay in school for interior design at the Art Institute of Chicago. in 1930 he was forced to cut his schooling short, and he went to work as an interior designer for Marshall Fields in Chicago. Ultimately unfulfilled with his career at Marshal Fields he quit in 1931 to join the Dunbar Furniture Company of Berne, Indiana. His job as lead designer was to update their overall product line.

Wormley’s work with Dunbar met with immediate success and his career with them lasted for 30 years. He had a outsatnding eye for quality and the exacting craftsmanship needed in the development of high quality modern furniture. Wormley began incorporating European innovations and created furniture that was elegant, understated and modern.  In 1944 Dunbar decided to focus exclusively on Modern lines, and to this day manufactures and sells furniture that Wormely designed between 1944 and 1970. While Wormley was never truly at the forefront of Modern design he was able to take the best elements from classical, historical design and translated them into Modern vernacular. His result was furniture that was sophisticated, yet mainstream, and this translated into a very successful product line for Dunbar.

Wormley was fortunate enough to be included in the “Good Design” Exhibitions staged by the Museum of Modern in New York between 1950 and 1955. This elevated him to a respected place alongside designers like Harry Bertoia, George Nelson and Charles and Ray Eames. Edward Wormley thoroughly understood the essential elements of what became known as Mid Century Modernism but never limited himself to this single ideology. His furniture designs represent an understanding of classical design principles merged with 20th century innovation. The convergence of these helped to create timeless classic pieces that greatly appeal to today’s collectors.


Edward Wormley designs from the current Dunbar catalog