Best for the most for the least

I’ve just been resinspired after an evening at Vitra for a special screening of Charles and Ray Eames: the Painter and the Architect.

Charles and Ray always said that they were designing “the Best for the most for the least”. A great statement that they stuck to throughout their lives. The film, by PBS, tells a story of a couple in love, in partnership, through emotionally difficult times and in death. They were working as a married partnership in a time that women were not at the forefront of business and this was uncomfortably visible in the NBC interview where Ray was seen to ‘support her husband’ rather than play a crucial part.

You can watch that awkward moment here.

His studio designers tell the story of working in the Eames office… “a delicious agony” working all day and all night, it was life not just a job and they were both perfectionists who were often crippled by their need to make everything precise.

“They didn’t have contracts, they had a handshake” speaking of the way in which Charles (often the person that would run business meetings) would handle to the clients, from Herman Miller to IBM, “we’ll give you a product but we can’t tell you how much it will cost”. They were aware that they were creating art that would change the way in which we lived that the business side of work was not an essential.

“He was very charismatic and very handsome”… so often said about Charles from his colleagues and clients which made him very popular amongst the women he worked with which led to his second affair that almost brought an end the Charles and Ray partnership.

Charles and Ray Eames

It was the golden era, when the boss sat with the designer. If you wanted a decision you could talk to the decision maker. This was much more common-place than it is now although we see this partnership having great success in the way that Jobs and Ive worked so closely together with a mutual understanding that the other is doing something great. The moment that this becomes imbalanced, a company becomes totally focused on profit or totally on design with worry of the financial side.

Aside from the furniture Charles and Ray built their house, a house that Ray filled with so many objects that a friend once wrote to her as “dearest queen of all packrats.” The house is still much loves by modernism aficionado’s who love to see the mixture of clean lines amongst Ray’s many objects that brought the house to life and made it a home rather than a museum.

Even Ice Cube celebrates the Eames in his short video. “This is going green 1949-style, bitch. Bul-ee dat.”

Daniel

Having worked in design for the past decade, Daniel started ateliertally.com as a discussion of timeless, modernist product design. Trained as a graphic designer, he also has an avid interest in typography. You can follow him on Twitter @ateliertally.

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