Design: He's a dedicated follower of furniture

Like the shirt? This man is a fashion phenomenon, and he attributes his success to a pair of chair designers.

Gucci, the Italian fashion house whose name remains synonymous with sexy chic, is currently sponsoring a major exhibition of two of this century's most influential designers, Charles and Ray Eames. It is the first time Gucci has been involved as a patron of the arts in the UK.

At the private view on Monday, the celebrities and attendant paparazzi were out in force. Tom Ford, Gucci's much-vaunted creative director, was in London to promote the event.

"You know," explains the 36-year-old American, "there is a pair of Gucci loafers in the Museum of Modern Art in New York from the 1960s. Our heritage is based on the notion of modern Italian design and so, to sponsor an exhibition of mid-century modernists, such as the Eames, makes perfect sense."

The Eames's met at the Academy of Art, Detroit, in 1940 and were married a year later. In their management of interior space and design of furniture and architectural structures they captured many of the defining moments in America's immediate pre- and post-war evolution. Their work became a reflection of the economic prosperity and optimism America enjoyed throughout the 1950s and 1960s. As ordinary Americans acquired a car for the first time, the Eames's explored the use of new materials to create low-cost, high-quality furniture for the mass market.

"The Eames truly believed the world could be a better place," continues Ford. "I think this opportunity to appreciate their work is really timely. Look at what's happening with advances in Aids and cancer drugs. You can feel the energy and self-belief of youth on the streets here in London. This is much of what the Eames were about."

Ford himself started out as a student of architecture, although he abandoned it quickly for being "too serious", and admits freely that his work at Gucci is influenced by the world of art and design. He refers enthusiastically to the Californian architect Neutra (he recently bought a Neutra house), to his European counterpart Mies van der Rohe and, of course, to the Eames's.

Ford believes the intimate relationship between fashion, design and culture is both necessary and unavoidable. "I have never literally looked at an Eames chair and said, "how can I turn that into a pair of pants?" he states. "Nevertheless, fashion for me has to have something to do with what is happening in the world. For it to be `mass' it has also to refer to populist culture.

"In fashion terms, you have to know what came before you to have a chance of knowing what the next thing will be. Fashion is business and commerce, not art. You have to take what is in the air and turn it into something people want to buy."

Since joining the company in 1995, Ford has transformed Gucci from a failing business producing suitcases with a famous label into the $1 billion fashion emporium it is today. One assumes that he is quite adept at anticipating market trends and giving people what they want.

Ford, rather like Charles and Ray Eames before him, sees himself as a "modernist". He cares about practicality and functionalism. "I wonder, if they were alive today, if the Eames's would not be off on some tangent we haven't thought of. Maybe they would be into electronics and software. You know, in the near future, rather than buy a new painting, perhaps you'll purchase a software programme that will redecorate your house, boom, like that. Software developments will change design forever."

Ford has just signed a new five-year contract at Gucci and is on a mission to revamp the Gucci global network of stores - which boast their own range of home furnishings - and bring them all up to his meticulous standards at a staggering cost of some $80m.

It would be interesting to know what the Eames's would make of their posthumous association with Gucci but one suspects they would share many of Ford's artistic sensibilities. After all, before attending the opening on their behalf, Eames Demetrios, their grandson, was rushed to the nearest store and bedecked in Gucci clothes after an airline suspiciously lost his luggage.

`The Work of Charles and Ray Eames' is at the Design Museum, Shad Thames, London SE1 (0171 378 6055) until 4 January, daily 11.30-6.

Suggested Topics
Arts and Entertainment
Innocent victim: Oli, a 13-year-old from Cornwall, featured in ‘Kids in Crisis?’
TV review
News
Northern exposure: social housing in Edinburgh, where Hassiba now works in a takeaway
books An Algerian scientist adjusts to life working in a kebab shop
Arts and Entertainment
Terminator Genisys: Arnie remains doggedly true to his word as the man who said 'I'll be back', returning once more to protect Sarah Connor in a new instalment

 

film review
Arts and Entertainment
Relocation, relocation: Zawe Ashton travels the pathway to Northampton
Arts and Entertainment
BBC Three was launched a little over five years ago with the slogan: “Three, is a magic number, yes it is.”

BBC Trust agrees to axe channel from TV in favour of digital move

TV
Arts and Entertainment

festivals
Arts and Entertainment

Final Top Gear review

TV
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment

music
Arts and Entertainment
Pete Doherty and Carl Barat perform at Glastonbury 2015

music
Arts and Entertainment
Lionel Richie performs live on the Pyramid stage during the third day of Glastonbury Festival

music
Arts and Entertainment
Buying a stairway to Hubbard: the Scientology centre in Los Angeles
film review Chilling inside views on a secretive church
Arts and Entertainment
Jason Williamson, left, and Andrew Fearn of Sleaford Mods
musicYou are nobody in public life until you have been soundly insulted by Sleaford Mods
Arts and Entertainment
Natalie Dew (Jess) in Bend It Like Beckham The Musical
theatreReview: Bend It Like Beckham hits back of the net on opening night
Arts and Entertainment
The young sea-faring Charles Darwin – seen here in an 1809 portrait – is to be portrayed as an Indiana Jones-style adventurer
film
Arts and Entertainment
The audience aimed thousands of Apple’s product units at Taylor Swift throughout the show
musicReview: On stage her manner is natural, her command of space masterful
Arts and Entertainment
Channel 4 is reviving its Chris Evans-hosted Nineties hit TFI Friday

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Harrison Ford plays Indiana Jones in The Last Crusade (1989)

film
Arts and Entertainment

music
Arts and Entertainment
A Glastonbury reveller hides under an umbrella at the festival last year

Glastonbury
Arts and Entertainment

music
Arts and Entertainment
Miles Morales is to replace Peter Parker as the new Spider-Man

comics
Arts and Entertainment
The sequel to 1993's Jurassic Park, Jurassic World, has stormed into the global record books to score the highest worldwide opening weekend in history.

film
Arts and Entertainment
Odi (Will Tudor)
tvReview: Humans, episode 2
Arts and Entertainment
Can't cope with a Port-A-loo? We've got the solution for you

FestivalsFive ways to avoid the portable toilets

Arts and Entertainment
Some zookeepers have been braver than others in the #jurassiczoo trend

Jurassic WorldThe results are completely brilliant

Arts and Entertainment
An original Miffy illustration
art
Arts and Entertainment
Man of mystery: Ian McKellen as an ageing Sherlock Holmes
film review
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    John Palmer: 'Goldfinger' of British crime was murdered, say police

    Murder of the Brink’s-MAT mastermind

    'Goldfinger' of British crime's life ended in a blaze of bullets, say police
    Forget little green men - aliens will look like humans, says Cambridge University evolution expert

    Forget little green men

    Leading evolutionary biologist says aliens will look like humans
    The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: An Algerian scientist adjusts to life working in a kebab shop

    The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

    An Algerian scientist struggles to adjust to her new life working in a Scottish kebab shop
    Bodyworlds museum: Dr Gunther von Hagens has battled legal threats, Parkinson's disease, and the threat of bankruptcy

    Dying dream of Doctor Death

    Dr Gunther von Hagens has battled legal threats, Parkinson's disease, and the threat of bankruptcy
    UK heatwave: Temperature reaches 39.8 degrees on Central Line - the sweatiest place in London

    39.8 degrees recorded on Tube

    There's hot (London) and too damn hot (the Underground). Simon Usborne braved the Central line to discover what its passengers suffer
    Kitchens go hi-tech: From robot chefs to recipe-shopping apps, computerised cooking is coming

    Computerised cooking is coming

    From apps that automatically make shopping lists from your recipe books to smart ovens and robot chefs, Kevin Maney rounds up innovations to make your mouth water
    Jessie Cave interview: The Harry Potter star has published a feminist collection of cartoons

    Jessie Cave's feminist cartoons

    The Harry Potter star tells Alice Jones how a one-night stand changed her life
    Football Beyond Borders: Even the most distruptive pupils score at homework club

    Education: Football Beyond Borders

    Add football to an after-school homework club, and even the naughtiest boys can score
    10 best barbecue books

    Fire up the barbie: 10 best barbecue books

    We've got Bibles to get you grilling and smoking like a true south American pro
    Wimbledon 2015: Nick Bollettieri - Junk balls and chop and slice are only way 5ft 1in Kurumi Nara can live with Petra Kvitova’s power

    Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon Files

    Junk balls and chop and slice are only way 5ft 1in Kurumi Nara can live with Petra Kvitova’s power
    Ron Dennis exclusive: ‘This is one of the best McLaren teams ever – we are going to do it’

    ‘This is one of the best McLaren teams ever – we are going to do it’

    Ron Dennis shrugs off a poor start to the season in an exclusive interview, and says the glory days will come back
    Seifeddine Rezgui: What motivated a shy student to kill 38 holidaymakers in Tunisia?

    Making of a killer

    What motivated a shy student to kill 38 holidaymakers in Tunisia?
    UK Heatwave: Temperatures on the tube are going to exceed the legal limit for transporting cattle

    Just when you thought your commute couldn't get any worse...

    Heatwave will see temperatures on the Tube exceed legal limit for transporting cattle
    Exclusive - The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Swapping Bucharest for London

    The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

    Meet the man who swapped Romania for the UK in a bid to provide for his family, only to discover that the home he left behind wasn't quite what it seemed
    Cheaper energy on the way, but it's not all sunshine and rainbows

    Cheaper energy on the way, but it's not all sunshine and rainbows

    Solar power will help bring down electricity prices over the next five years, according to a new report. But it’s cheap imports of ‘dirty power’ that will lower them the most