Eames: the Architect and the Painter (12A)


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The Independent Culture

An eye-opening portrait of Charles and Ray Eames, the husband-and-wife team that revolutionised American design in the mid-20th century.

To make "the best for the most for the least" was their ideal of mass production, and found its most iconic expression in a chair whose curves they pioneered from an original design for hospital splints. IBM and Kodak were among the big businesses that sought their creative genius and eventually made them famous. Former employees at their Venice, Cal, workshop, design journalists and assorted others discuss their significance in interview, though the film doesn't peer too closely into the dynamics of their marriage.

Charles was Fonda-esque handsome, charismatic and reluctant to share credit among his staff; Ray, whose brilliant eye for form and colour is duly acknowledged, was squat and dark – "a delicious dumpling", as one colleague describes her. The marriage lasted, despite his straying, though that's not the story that animates documentarists Jason Cohn and Bill Jersey: what matters is the evidence of lives dedicated to an abundant and visionary talent.