Building a Life: Charles and Ray’s Anniversary Posted June 20, 2018 by Marlow Hoffman

Cheers to Charles and Ray Eames on what would have been their 77th wedding anniversary.

Charles and Ray Eames ran off to Los Angeles shortly after marrying on June 20, 1941. In the decades that followed, they created a world around themselves filled with love, exploration, diligence, and play.

They instilled in those they knew a deep respect for learning; they set a standard for an exemplary work ethic; and they demonstrated that we can always make something better—even an already iconic design—by treating projects as though they’re never really done.

In addition to the many concepts Charles and Ray taught us, they also created things during their partnership to make our world a better place. They gave us furniture designs that we still enjoy; films that we continue to watch and show our kids; exhibitions that, nearly 60 years later, are still on display; and inspirational architectural structures, one of which is a National Historic Landmark. But Charles and Ray were building more than that.

MIT physics professor, Philip Morrison, a consultant for the Eames Office, and his wife Phylis, who had worked on staff, elaborated on this idea in an interview about Charles and Ray’s collaboration:

Philip: “You could just tell by looking and walking into the [901] studio; you could tell it’s a place that’s very hard to duplicate. That’s what the essence of it is. Anybody who duplicates that, in some way, will have a similar kind of control. But I don’t know of anybody who does that . . . . The BBC has plenty of widgets on shelves, but nobody understands what they are, because the person who put them there, maybe he understood that one, but he didn’t understand all the others. And there are plenty of people who understand wonderful things, but they haven’t got the pieces together and haven’t made the imagery and tried to surround it and make them visual. But Ray and Charles did those things, and that’s a unique phenomenon, or pretty close to it.”

Phylis: “On top of it all, of course, it made itself into a hard, but mighty good way of living—and that is what Charles was really making—”

Philip: “That’s right.”

Phylis: “That is what Ray was really making—”

Philip: “That’s right.”

Phylis: “And that is what they were making together.”

Philip: “They were building a life together. Yes. Sure. Difficult.”

Cheers to Charles and Ray Eames for everything they created together—both for themselves and for all of us, yesterday, today, and tomorrow.