Ray Eames by Matt Scorte

Ray Eames, also known as Bernice Alexandra Kaiser, was a painter who was well known for being part of the duo known as ‘Ray and Charles Eames’ along with her husband. She studied in New York along with the abstract expressionist, Hans Hofmann, where she would also be a founder of the American Abstract Artists group. She would then move to Cranbrook, Michigan where she would meet Charles and where the legacy of Charles and Ray Eames would start. For the most part, a lot of the work the Eames Office made was made through the partnership of Ray and Charles. They created famous chairs, films, and even designed their own home. but both of them had a strong input into each project. Though they were a duo, there were some characteristics that Ray brought to the table that complimented would the architectural mind of Charles in different ways.

Ray Eames was trained as a painter, but she was also much more than that. She would be quoted for saying, “I never gave up painting, I just changed my palette.”[1] Though one of her paintings is in the permanent collection at The Whintey Museum of American Art, she was a painter who rarely painted. She would taking on other roles such as a graphic artist, filmmaker, and furniture designer. Despite her legacy being tied so strongly to her collaborative work. Ray still maintained a sense of individuality when it came to her artistic work. She brought the “painters” way of seeing and interpreting things to the team. It was said she has an “exceptional visual acuity and memory” as well as having an obsession with the “choice of color. material, or even the basic form of a piece of furniture that led to the pleasing overall result.” [2]

Apart from the collaborative. Ray designed 26 posters for the ‘Arts and Architecture Magazine,’ between 1942 and 1948. She also did many of the Herman Miller advertisements that were for the Eames furniture they were designing.[3] This can be attributed to the painting background she previously possessed. She would also work on a lot of other graphical work such as posters, timelines, game boards, and business cards. She is also well know for creating many textiles, two of which won awards at competitions organized by MoMa, the “Crosspatch” and “Sea Things” patterns. [4]

Though many people at the time attributed much of the Eames Office works to Charles, much of it would not have been done without Ray.  She had just as much input as Charles did, and she was very much an equal partner. Charles was even quoted saying, “Anything I can do, Ray can do better.”[1]


Cover designs for Arts and Architecture Magazine [5]

sketches of crosspatch textile design

Sketches of Crosspatch textile design [5]


Staff help Ray Eames with the paper-mache and plaster moulds for their La Chaise Chair [5]


[1]Demetrios, Eames, Gloria Fowler, and Steve Crist. Eames: Beautiful Details. N.p.: n.p., n.d. Print.

[2]”Ray Eames.” Fembio. N.p., n.d. Web. <http://www.fembio.org/english/biography.php/woman/biography/ray-eames/&gt;.

[3]Frauen Und Grafik-Design: 1890 – 2012 = Women in Graphic Design. Berlin: Jovis, 2012. Print.

[4]”Textiles | Eames Office.” Eames Office. N.p., n.d. Web. 06 May 2015. <http://www.eamesoffice.com/catalog-category/textiles/&gt;.

[5] “Creative Women with Tess McCabe – Ray Eames.” The Design Files Australias Most Popular Design Blog RSS. N.p., n.d. Web. 06 May 2015. <http://thedesignfiles.net/2011/06/creative-women-with-tess-mccabe-ray-eames/&gt;.

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