Ray and the Color Purple Posted March 29, 2016 by Daniel Ostroff

In 1949, Charles Eames told the Christian Science Monitor: “She [Ray Eames] is equally responsible with me for everything that goes on here.”

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During a PBS interview in 1969 Charles elaborated, explaining that “Ray, you know, really usually looks at a problem, and the contribution doesn’t have to do with the juxtaposition of colors. It usually has to do with the consistency of structure. And I think that this kind of function is not only appropriate to the function of a real painter, but it sort of tells the kind of training and instincts that she has.”

Ichiban Eggplants_Eames Chaise Blog_2016That said, one cannot deny that Ray had an incredible eye for color.  It seems we have Ray Eames to thank for introducing the color “eggplant” to modern furniture. She applied this color to the design of the Eames Chaise, introduced in 1968.

The Chaise frame is cast aluminum, and Charles and Ray decided to coat the frame with a uniform, thick epoxy that has the appearance of Asian lacquer.  This durable coating modulates the otherwise cool-to-the-touch feel of the aluminum. The epoxy they sourced had an unpleasant industrial color, and just like they had to do when they mixed the first colors for fiberglass, Charles and Ray had to devise an integral color for the coating.

They didn’t make a decision on the color for quite some time. Then, one day, Ray, acting on inspiration, brought a Japanese eggplant to the office. She realized that the eggplant color provided the perfect compliment to the rich black leather on the cushions of the Chaise.

Today, the Eames Chaise is available from Herman Miller and Vitra in a variety of finishes, including “Eggplant.”