The designer Ray Eames was born Bernice Alexandra Kaiser in Sacramento, California, in 1912. With her mother, Ray Kaiser moved to New York in 1929, where Ray studied painting at the Art Students League. On the death of her mother, Ray enrolled at the Cranbrook Academy in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan, where she met Charles Eames, at that time head of the industrial design department. Ray soon belonged to the team collaborating on the designs by Charles Eames and Eero Saarinen, which the two designers intended to submit to the "Organic Design in Home Furnishings" competition hosted by the Museum of Modern Art in New York. The main design was an armchair with the seat and back formed of a single piece of plywood molded in three dimensions. The chair won a prize but proved too complex for mass production.
In 1941 Charles Eames divorced his first wife to marry Ray and the couple moved to Los Angeles, where Charles designed sets for MGM Studios and Ray Eames worked as a graphic designer for "Art & Architecture Magazine". Charles and Ray Eames continued to experiment in their flat with a press they called "Kazam! Machine" on molding plywood. In 1942 Charles and Ray Eames established the Plyformed Wood Company and designed splints and stretchers of molded plywood for the US Navy. Financial difficulties made the Eames sell the business to the Evans Product Company, where Charles Eames became head of the research and development division. Ray Eames continued to play a major role in the development of furniture.
In 1946 MOMA mounted the exhibition "New Furniture by Charles Eames", featuring prototypes of the plywood furniture designed by Charles and Ray Eames. They included the "Lounge Chair, Metal (LCM)" and the "Lounge Chair, Wood (LCW)", made of several bentwood elements. Based on a 1940 design, the "LCW" was further developed with armrests to become the prototype of the celebrated and sophisticated 1956 Lounge Chair "No. 670" with footstool "No. 671".
In the late 1950s, Charles and Ray Eames developed the revolutionary "Plastic Shell Group" with fiber glass chairs. It included the 1948 "La Chaise" chair, the "Dining Armchair Rod (DAR)", and the "Rocking Armchair Rod (RAR)", presented in 1948-1950. In 1958 the "Aluminium Group" was launched. The 1960 "Time-Life Stools" are viewed as Ray Eames's masterpiece. Furniture designed by Charles and Ray Eames is produced chiefly by Herman Miller and Vitra hergestellt.
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