Happy Anniversary Charles & Ray! Posted June 20, 2014 by Marlow Hoffman

Today we celebrate what would have been Charles and Ray’s 73rd wedding anniversary.

From Charles and Ray’s first encounter, their relationship was rooted in hard work, exploration, and fun. They met in 1940 at Cranbrook Academy of Art, where Ray assisted Charles and Eero Saarinen with their furniture entries for a MoMA competition (they won first prize for seating and case goods).

Less than a year later, while Ray was away in New York, the couple corresponded about their future projects and collaborations. In addition, Charles wrote Ray a letter (left), which included a drawing of a hand and the simple question: “What is the size of this finger?”

In 1941, the couple had an intimate wedding ceremony with family and friends, and then set off for California, where they spent the next 38 years building a partnership that led to a rich, abundant, and expansive array of work.

Charles and Ray were a team, whether creating a comfortable chair in which to rest, a film to change one’s perspective of the world, an engaging exhibition for all, or an idea to propel a country forward.

As Ben Baldwin (architect, AAA founding member with Ray, and Charles’s studio mate at Cranbrook) once said:

The combination was an extraordinary one.  I don’t know of any other like it . . . of two designers who really contributed enormously to each other’s work . . . they both had very strong gifts in different directions and yet somehow in the same direction.

In life and in work, Charles and Ray made each other better, and together, they made the world a better place.

 Image: Letter from Charles to Ray, 1941, Library of Congress