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Barbican Art Gallery exhibition - the World of Charles and Ray Eames

Posted by Sinead Wheeler on

Barbican Art Gallery's new exhibition 'The World of Charles and Ray Eames' (21 October 2015 - 14 February 2016) celebrates the groundbreaking and highly influential designs and practice of the US-based husband and wife team.

A partnership 'forged in modernity', their design practice took them into partnership with the furniture manufacturer Herman Miller, and its European arm Vitra. Vitra today retains the rights to produce many iconic Eames designs, from the 'Hang-it-All' coat hook, house bird and elephant (below), to the lounge chair and ottoman above.



The British architect Alison Smithson described the Eames' own house, 'Case Study House #8', as "a cultural gift parcel". The home epitomised Charles and Ray's approach to design and their 'good life' concept of celebrating the beauty of everyday objects as well as precious ones. Toys, masks and other folkloric souvenirs collected from their travels were laid out on tables next to stones, buttons, pieces of bark and favourite books, and the couple's own innovative furniture in plywood and steel was in evidence throughout alongside hand-me-down pieces.

Ray (given name 'Bernice') was a prolific producer of textile designs, drawing inspiration from the same organic and geometric forms as her British contemporary Lucienne Day.


The Eames were also active experimental filmmakers. IBM commissioned many of their film works, including perhaps their best known, 'Powers of Ten':

Powers of ten from on Vimeo

Charles and Ray Eames continue to inspire and influence designers and homemakers, and find new fans. The Barbican exhibition is sure to bring greater exposure and admiration for their work, and a deeper understanding of their practice in design and experimentation.