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Charles Eames: If it’s not Functional, it’s not Beautiful


Here at Custom Car Chronicle we love Eames. Imagine how happy we were when we found this beautiful book about the history of these iconic chairs, tables, clocks, lamps and what have you. This 2-volume, 800-page book has more than 2,500 images, Marilyn Neuhart tells the story — to paraphrase Charles Eames himself — of how Eames furniture got to be the way it is.

Brimming with images and insightful text, this unique book is the benchmark reference on what is arguably the most influential and important furniture brand of our time. It reveals in unparalleled detail how Charles and Ray Eames as well as a talented team of designers worked to create pieces that still top bestseller lists. The book describes the key role played by the Eames Office’s own development and perfection of production processes for its designs as well as the significance of its relationship with manufacturers. By documenting the creation and spread of these landmark furniture designs, this book also tells the story of how modernism became established in homes and offices throughout the world.

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The Story of Eames Furniture is the benchmark reference on the subject. It is a biography — not of an individual person, but of arguably the most influential and important furniture brand of our time. Brimming with images and information, this 2-volume, 800-page book in a slipcase sheds new light on the context in which the furniture of Charles and Ray Eames was created. It documents in unparalleled detail how the design process in the Eames Office developed as well as the significant roles played by specific designers and manufacturers.

Through intense and self-critical teamwork, the Eames Office was the first to translate the theoretical approach of the Bauhaus into commercially successful design for a mass market. One can hardly exaggerate the relevance of Eames’s modern concept of design. In many cases the success of the pieces is based on the Office’s own development and perfection of production processes for its designs. The Story of Eames furniture 3

The concepts that originated in the Eames Studio made a fundamental impact on modern design. Its furniture still tops bestseller lists and, decades later, the pieces have not lost any of their original elegance, timelessness, freshness, and quality. Its combination of conceptual consistency, aesthetic mastery, and almost scientific persistence is particularly inspirational for young designers today.

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The Story of Eames Furniture was written and designed by Marilyn Neuhart together with her husband John. Both have worked at the Eames Office in various capacities since the 1950s. They have looked after the house of Charles and Ray Eames since the designers’ deaths and have supervised the Eames Archive. More familiar with the material and protagonists than almost any other, Marilyn Neuhart has spent the last 15 years compiling the stories, images, and recollections featured in this book.

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Image credits for all preview pages shown above: From The Story of Eames Furniture, © 2010 Eames Office LLC, from the Collections of the Library of Congress


Esther de Charon de Saint Germain

Esther is our design, art, fashion and other none-car-related-topics contributor. She is an art historian with a degree in Asian Contemporary Art , a communication professional with extensive experience in design, contemporary art, communications and events and a personal coach. She is infected with the custom car and hot rod virus (an unavoidable result of being married to Rik Hoving) but (due to being a coach and all) especially likes the stories about the people who built them.

One thought on “Charles Eames: If it’s not Functional, it’s not Beautiful

  • The whole post war creativity (even if Charles hated that word) of architecture and design was astounding. The Case Study houses have been an inspiration for me and millions of others for it’s clarity and pureness of vision. So too, the furniture of Eames. I found a 1960 Time Life chair at a second hand store for $70. It is one of my favourite possessions. I can not think of any way that you could improve it’s design. That is what makes Eames furniture so wonderful. I also have several LCW chairs which I love as well. They are sculptures for sitting on.
    I must admit that I didn’t know about the many other designers that contributed to the Eames business so I need to get this book. Great that they all get their recognition. Damn just when I thought I had some spare cash to buy Cadillac parts. . . . Q

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