The Perfect Setting Posted December 1, 2006 by Daniel Ostroff

This could be an ad for Eames chair. But it's a close-up of the central image in an advertisement in the December 2006 ELLE DECOR for Oneida Flatware. Charles and Ray Eames did not design flatware. Eames Spotting reflected on this and proposes that because Charles and Ray were oriented towards designing for clearing defined needs, they would not undertake a design project if there was already something great on the market for a particular purpose. Charles in particular often spoke disdainfully about innovation, especially innovation as an end unto itself. He preached the gospel "customers first, last and always," and if this meant that if a consumer need was met by an already excellent product, then there was no need to come up with something "new."

This could be an ad for Eames chair. But it’s a close-up of the central image in an advertisement in the December 2006 ELLE DECOR for Oneida Flatware.

It gives me an excuse to explore some Eames history…

Charles and Ray were the designers of the MUSEUM OF MODERN ART’s first GOOD DESIGN exhibition, described in this January 16, 1950 press release: “A spectacular showing of more than 250 home furnishings objects of modern design were put on display today when the “Good Design” exhibition, sponsored by The Museum of Modern Art of New York and The Merchandise Mart of Chicago, was officially opened…”

“The objects put on display are the products of many of America’s most progressive manufacturers and handicrafters and range from a new magnetized soap holder to a huge modern 12-foot divan with adjustable legs. Many of the objects shown were created by some of America’s foremost designers, including such names as Edward Wormley, Dorothy Liebes, J. O. Reinecke and Charles Eames. Eames, assisted by his wife Ray, also designed the space for the exhibition.”

“The entire exhibition is exuberant and fresh, and according to Edgar Kaufmann, Jr., director of “Good Design”, it is the first attempt ever made to present a permanent showing of the best new modern products in the field of home furnishings that are available to consumers. All home furnishings are included such as furniture, rugs, lamps, appliances, housewares and fabrics.”

“All the objects in the showing were chosen by the selection committee, which was composed of Kaufmann; Meyric Rogers, curator of decorative arts of the Chicago Art Institute, and Alexander Girard.”

Eames Spotting finds some interesting facts in the “List of Objects Exhibited.” Of the thirty three items of “Furniture,” eight were designed by the Eames Office. Runner up for most furniture designs in the exhibition was Edward J. Wormley, with six. The “Eames Team” increases its “lead” when Fabrics are taken into account. “Crosspatch” by Ray Eames was included yet there were no Edward J. Wormley fabrics. The Eames designs emphasized economy, durability, usefulness, and beauty. In particular they were positioned to be very affordable so it seems hardly fair to compare Eames and Wormley designs.

Here’s the entire ad.