Sunday, September 21, 2014

Goodbye Eames Chairs




     While in the process of moving some old family furniture out of storage, I found two of the four classic Eames chairs that my family had used as dining chairs throughout my childhood. Though the metal legs were rusty, the wood worn and the backs loose, I was struck by the elegant lines and timeless beauty of the design. I researched Eames and found that the designer was actually a talented couple, Charles and Ray, who had long and fruitful careers. Below, from the website "Design within Reach," is a short synopsis of their lives and work throughout the 20th Century.

Charles and Ray Eames

 USA (1907–1978; 1912–1988)
Headshot of designer.
Design is for living. That maxim shaped a widespread shift in design during the 1940s and 1950s. It was a revolution of form, an exciting visual language that signaled a new age and a fresh start – and two of its prime movers were Charles and Ray Eames. The Eameses were a husband and wife team whose unique synergy led to a whole new look in furniture. Lean and modern. Sleek, sophisticated and simple. Beautifully functional.
Yet Charles and Ray Eames created more than a “look” with their bent plywood chairs or molded fiberglass seating. They had ideas about making a better world, one in which things were designed to fulfill the practical needs of ordinary people and bring greater simplicity and pleasure to our lives.
The Eameses adventurously pursued new ideas and forms with a sense of “serious fun.” Yet, it was rigorous discipline that allowed them to achieve perfection of form and mastery over materials. As Charles noted about the molded plywood chair, “Yes, it was a flash of inspiration,” he said, “a kind of 30-year flash.” Combining imagination and thought, art and science, Charles and Ray Eames created some of the most influential expressions of 20th century design – furniture that remains stylish, fresh and functional today.
And they didn't stop with furniture. The Eameses also created a highly innovative “case study” house in response to a magazine contest. They made films, including a seven-screen installation at the 1959 Moscow World's Fair, presented in a dome designed by Buckminster Fuller. They designed showrooms, invented toys and generally made the world a more interesting place to be.
As the most important exponents of organic design, Charles and Ray Eames demonstrated how good design can improve quality of life and human understanding and knowledge.

Window display at Antiques and Modern with reflected biker on Adeline Street

     Though I admired my chairs, I really had no place for them, nor did I want to devote the time and energy for their restoration. So I took them to a stylish shop in Berkeley called Antiques and Modern which specializes in furniture from the 50's-70's. Chris Howard, the owner, was happy to take them off my hands for a small sum. He has a  workshop in back of his store brimming with eye-catching mid-century pieces needing work.


     My two chairs have joined the hodge-podge. Hopefully they will find a good home once they are refinished.

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