Exhibition: “An Eames Celebration” at Vitra Design Museum

Charles und Ray Eames wählen Dias aus | © Eames Office LLC

The Vitra Design Museum in Weil am Rhein is opening four exhibitions in honor of Charles and Ray Eames that will run from September 30, 2017 until February 25, 2018. An homage 

As a design duo, Charles and Ray Eames are unparalleled. Now the Vitra Design Museum in Weil am Rhein is dedicating a comprehensive retrospective to these icons of modern design that explores the pair’s body of work beyond the boundaries of disciplines.

Charles Eames once said: “Those needs and designs that have a more universal quality tend towards relative permanence.” With their philosophy of functionality, Charles and Ray Eames redefined the principles of design from 1941 until 1988. Now the Vitra Design Museum is presenting four parallel exhibitions between September 30, 2017 and February 25, 2018 – all under the title of An Eames Celebration – to examine this design duo’s extensive body of work and their significant influence.

“I am 34 (almost) years old, single (again) and broke – I love you very much and would like to marry you very very soon.” It was with these lines in 1941 that Charles Eames and Ray Kaiser set out together on a great love story and a shared career. The architect and painter had just gotten to know each other a year before at the Cranbrook Academy of Art in Michigan. The main exhibition, Charles & Ray Eames. The Power of Design, spans from the pair’s first commission for the U.S. Navy to the renowned furniture classics and buildings all the way to their work on groundbreaking multimedia installations.

With her exceptional talent for color and composition, Ray Eames took over the artistic vision from the start – which Charles, with his technical know-how and inventiveness, then perfected. The lines between work life and private life blurred so playfully and passionately, the two often almost forgot to call it a day at the office. Whether plywood, plastic, wire mesh, or aluminum, they always found a new and creative approach to their materials. They firmly rejected the rigid geometry of earlier generations and advocated an organic design principle in the tradition of the Bauhaus. Furniture, interiors, and buildings were as inspired by nature as they were by artists like Piet Mondrian, Joan Miró, Alexander Calder, and Paul Klee – unique for a design practice of its time.

What few people know: The best-known works by Charles and Ray Eames – their furniture and buildings – were all created within around a 15-year period. From the 1960s on they increasingly turned to the medium of film, which is handled in detail for the first time in the exhibition Ideas and Information. The Eames Films in the Vitra Fire Station by Zaha Hadid. The duo explored the possibilities of the medium for interdisciplinary transfer of knowledge in the realms of art, technology, and natural sciences in more than 100 avant-garde short films. Powers of Ten, for example, which visualizes the scale of the world and the universe based on a factor of ten, is known to everyone in this country from their school days. They created pioneering works and belonged, even then, to the trailblazers of new media technology.

There is probably not a single image of Charles and Ray Eames in which they’re not gleefully smiling back at us. Their works are bathed in light, cheerful, and airy. They stand for the carefree side of America during the Cold War years and brought the California sun and a love of nature and science to the world. An Eames Celebration is, therefore, not just an homage to the Eames’ extensive body of work – a body of work that retains all of its genius to this day – but also an homage to life.

An Eames Celebration runs from September 30, 2017 until February 25, 2018 at Vitra Design Museum in Weil am Rhein/Basel. The exhibition Play Parade will be displayed at the Vitra Design Museum Gallery and will start as of tomorrow, September 9th and will run until February 2nd 2018. More information can be found on their website here.

Translation: Melissa Frost

Fashion, art, and pop culture are her cosmos; the written word, the material she uses to bring it all together. After studying in Leipzig, Lola Fröbe moved to Berlin in 2014. She works as a PR consultant and freelance journalist for publications such as L'Officiel, i-D, and Material Magazine.