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The Eameses’ work and its impact

Charles and Ray Eames: an introduction

The Eameses had a prolific career of integrating concepts and creating designs in almost every creative enterprise starting with the post war years and culminating in the space age. The collective output of the Eames' office included iconic furniture, designs for mass-production, prosthetics, graphics, exhibitions, films and architecture, mixing ideas, materials and new technologies- incorporated as they emerged. They embraced industrial technology and ideas of mass production with optimism rather than suspicion. Inspired by a modern but humanist aesthetic, they brought 'good design' to the mass market. (Massey 2001, p.155) Their prolific work in so many disciplines made design accessible to all. Their work often anticipated developments that would take the turn of the century to materialize. The influences of the Eameses can be seen in the visual sleekness and functional formality of most aspects associated with modern society in post war America.

This approach is seen in their life as in their designs, famously expressed by Charles: "Eventually everything connects-people, ideas, objects, etc. … the quality of the connections is the key to quality per se." Each area of modern life they touched-no matter how far afield-was infused with the same philosophy, rooted in an unwavering belief: Everything is connected, from the tiniest line of a pencil marking to the biggest splash of ocean to a falling star. (Roux 2007)

The Eames would make lifetime of design that constantly strived to serve different needs of the 'real world'. The Eamses believed in the tradition of High Modernism, that design could significantly improve the lot of the people and enrich their lives. That this could be done with a light touch is amply demonstrated in their work, and in the work of those influenced by them. They left a legacy of design that bridged the gap between high and low, relishing constraints, but never compromising on quality, and always building on the connections and associations that the world offers, to create fresh objects and environments of lasting beauty and elegance.

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