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Around Town: 'Eames - The Architect and the Painter'

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[AROUND TOWN] On general release, this documentary follows the lives and works of iconic designers Charles and Ray Eames

Summary: This film recalls the story of designers Charles and Ray Eames, beginning in the 1940s when their ergonomic plywood leg splint was bought in large quantities by the US Navy. The couple brought the same technique to chair and product design, and went on to create some of the most iconic pieces of modern furniture.

Alongside industrial design, the Eames’ 40 year careers took in photography, art, architecture and film, making an indelible mark on American culture of the time.

The documentary uses archive footage, photographs, letters and interviews to reveal more about the couple and story behind their works. This inevitably shines a light on Charles and Ray’s inner world and their lives away from the factory.

Highlights: Most of us know the couple for their furniture designs, but it was good to review their work in film, such Glimpses of the USA, shown at the American National Exhibition in Moscow in 1959 and Powers of Ten (1968), which brought the Eames’ innovation to a different medium.

Low points: There are many interviews with those who knew the Eames personally, but it would have been interesting to hear more from designers unconnected to the couple about how the Eames’ designs have influenced them.

Curatorial comment: ‘Ray and Charles Eames redefined industrial design, along the way creating one of the first recognisable brands… Eames: The Architect and the Painter employs a treasure trove of archive footage to explore and celebrate the lives of this unique couple.’ (Curzon Cinemas)

Final word: A very watchable documentary which celebrates the Eames’ contribution to modern design.


Eames: The Architect and The Painter
(2011, 83 mins)
In cinemas on general release.

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