When Meredith Gray, a good friend and Artsy Girl, recommends a video I take it seriously. She’s a former magazine editor and fashion stylist. I find her taste level and aesthetic impeccable. She responded to my cry for help from my sickbed last week asking for interesting things to watch while laid up. She promptly sent me a link to the Charles and Ray Eames PBS documentary and I just as promptly watched it.
As it said in the film, everyone is familiar with the famous Eames chair designs, but I was not aware of their influence and innovation in so many other areas of the design world. I wasn’t even aware that there was a THEY and that Ray was Charles’ wife, not a brother or son. She had an extraordinary role to play in the output from their studio, but took up less space publicly because of the decades in which they worked. Women were often behind the scenes fame-wise, even though she was clearly an equal contributor.
You’ll have to watch the video for the complete story, but one piece I will share here is about the IBM Pavilion at the 1964 New York Worlds Fair conceived and designed by Charles Eames and Eero Saarinen. You get to see the pen and ink drawings of their concepts. They were the first to use a multi-screen theatre. They invented it. Although we take that elaborate technology for granted these days, they told how perfect the timing had to be so that each image — thousands of photographs were taken worldwide to convey how IBM impacted our lives–would appear at precisely the right time to match the words from the announcer. The announcer, they said, had a nervous breakdown before the event because of the demands and pressure to pull off this breakthrough performance.
You meet many of the designers from their office in the film. In one interview I heard about the ‘plunger’ concept–how Eames envisioned the patrons of the pavilion rising into the domed structure. The employee asked Charles Eames how to implement the elevator concept in this most unusual fashion. “Figure it out,” he was told. Reminded me of Steve Jobs’ innovations and ‘reality distortion field.’ Somehow the impossible gets created when great minds have a vision and others support it.
I’m thrilled by these amazing inventors. Any other recommendations?