Who doesn’t recognise the elegant lines and inviting comfort of the Eames lounge chair and ottoman? Or the simplicity of the signature Eames moulded plywood chair? These are pieces of furniture found in the collections of MOMA in New York and the Centre Pompidou in Paris - bona fide design icons. But yet who would also recognise their designers, Charles and Ray Eames? Famously secretive, there is little that is widely known of the husband and wife team that helped define the post-war Modernist style.

‘Eames: The Architect and the Painter’ is a new film by Jason Cohn and Bill Jersey that reveals the creative couple behind ‘The Eames Era’ of design. The first documentary to be made about them since their deaths in 1978 (Charles) and 1988 (Ray), the James Franco-narrated movie offers an unprecedented look at both their life and work. The title sets the tone with its hint of irony: Ray was a painter who rarely painted and Charles was an architecture school dropout who was never licensed to practice. Despite this, at a vast warehouse (“The Eamery”, as their staff referred to it) in Venice Beach, California, the Eames’ made design history with work that married beauty with functionality.

The Eames Office was responsible not only for the innovative furniture that is now ubiquitous. There were also architectural projects, most notably the landmark house that they built in the Pacific Palisades, Los Angeles. And, as ‘The Architect and the Painter’ attests, there were hundreds of exhibitions and quirky films, many of which were unknown until the production of this film.

Through never-seen-before archive footage of Charles and Ray (even Eames aficionados might not have heard them speak), interviews with their junior designers and heirs, and volumes of photographs, love letters, the relationship between the two Eames is examined for the first time. The sometimes tortured love between Charles and Ray was fuelled by a shared love for innovation and aesthetic refinement – the definition of the iconic Eames style.

"Eventually, everything connects."—Charles Eames

"Innovate as a last resort."

"Design is the appropriate combination of materials in order to solve a problem."

"I have never been forced to accept compromises but I have willingly accepted constraints."

"Take your pleasures seriously."

“The details are not the details. They make the design.”

"I like to consider myself to be very very funny, the funny thing is, I dont know what a joke actually is."

More info:

‘Eames: The Architect and the Painter’ is currently showing across America:

‘Eames: The Architect and the Painter’ will be released on DVD on December 13. Order online at: