A talented artist, designer and filmmaker, Ray Eames is a well-known name throughout the architecture and design industries. The name Eames itself carries weight; Ray Eames was half of the husband-and-wife duo that made an enormous impact on modern design. Though her husband, Charles, received most of the praise and spotlight during their partnership due to the gender conventions of their time, Ray was a powerful voice and creative in her own regard. Today, we look back on her life and contributions to the world of design.

Born in Sacramento, California in 1912, Ray was passionate about art from an early age, expressing interest in dance, illustration and art history. After pursuing art as a student for years, Ray eventually found her way to New York, fully immersed in the abstract art scene. By 1940, she decided to pursue a holistic approach to art and design at the Cranbrook Academy of Art, in Michigan, where she then met her husband, Charles. Upon meeting Charles, Ray took her strengths in color, form and structure and applied them to furniture design, and the two began a creative and life partnership that would thrive for decades.

Although Charles had a more public profile, Ray worked full-time and was equally devoted to their work. Together, they explored new, inventive designs for furniture, products, short films and architecture. Their own house is arguably the greatest representation of their architectural work. A structure of steel and glass, the Eames House is an iconic piece of modern architecture, with Ray’s background in abstract art informing the Mondrianesque panels on the front façade.

Eames House. Credit: IK’s World Trip on Flickr Creative Commons, CC BY 2.0 Deed

The Eameses worked as partners from 1941 until 1978 when Charles passed away. Their collaboration and creative vigor continues to inspire to this day, and is even reminiscent of our own David Hovey Sr. and Eileen Hovey, who have built Optima while also building a life and family together. 

To read more about the life and work of Ray Eames, check out a recent feature by The New York Times