Not only did CHARLES EAMES (1907-1978) and his wife, RAY (1912-1988) design some of the most important examples of 20th century furniture, they also applied their talents to devising ingenious children's toys, puzzles, films, exhibitions and such iconic mid-20th century Los Angeles buildings as the Eames House and Entenza House in Pacific Palisades.
The last thing the landlord expected when he rented a modest Richard Neutra-designed apartment on Strathmore Avenue in the Los Angeles suburb of Westwood to a newly married couple in 1941 was for the spare bedroom to be turned into a workshop. No sooner had Charles and Ray Eames moved in than they kitted out that room with a home-made moulding machine into which they fed the woods and glues that Charles sneaked home from his day job as a set architect on MGM movies like Mrs Miniver.
It was on this machine - dubbed the "Kazam!" after the saying "Ala Kazam!" because the plywood formed in the mould like magic - that the Eames produced their first mass-manufactured product, a plywood leg splint based on a plaster mould of Charles' own leg. A year later, the US Navy placed an order for 5,000 splints and the Eames moved their workshop out of their apartment into a rented studio on nearby Santa Monica Boulevard.
The combination of visionary design and ingenuity that had prompted Charles and Ray Eames prototype a mass-manufactured product in their spare room was to characterise their work over the next four decades. Together they not only designed some of the most influential and innovative furniture of the late 20th century, but through their films, teaching, writing and their life together in the house they designed in Pacific Palisades, they defined an open, organic, emotionally expressive approach to design and lifestyle.
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