‘The World of Charles and Ray Eames’ exhibit is now open at The Henry Ford

The "Modern Living" room by Charles and Ray Eames at The Henry Ford. (Jason Rzucidlo/AmericaJR)

DEARBORN, Mich. — A brand new exhibit is on display at The Henry Ford Museum of American Innovation. It’s called “The World of Charles and Ray Eames” and it pays tribute to the two modernism designers who met at the Cranbrook School of Art in 1940.

The special exhibit allows guests to go inside the minds of the 20th century’s most influential designers. There are more than 400 artifacts included within this limited engagement exhibit. It includes furniture, product designs, paintings, drawings, films, sculptures, photography and much more.

The World of Charles and Ray Eames is a comprehensive overview of the couple’s entire career,” said Patricia Mooradian, president & CEO, The Henry Ford. “It reinforces their creativity and their ingenuity beyond their furniture design. Wait until you see it. You’re really going to be amazed by the stories that you’re going to see and hear about. From films to toys to architecture to their exhibition work that they did, the design work of Ray and Charles was all encompassing.”

This is the first time these artifacts have ever been shown at a museum in the United States. The World of Charles and Ray Eames came direct from London’s Barbican Centre. The exhibit will remain on display at The Henry Ford through Sept. 3, 2018.

“It’s amazing…we’ve been fans of Charles and Ray Eames for years,” said museum goer Jennifer Grasso from Clinton Twp., Mich. “Everything in our house is mid-century modern except for the house. I loved to see the Eames chair with the drawing of the cat. That one was wonderful. I’ve seen it in books. Seeing it in person was so cool.”

Her husband, Jon Grasso, added: “Seeing a lot of the original sketches and everything from the them is really cool to see. You can’t see it anywhere else. I liked the toy plywood elephant. She has one of the recreations out of the plastic new materials.”

One of the Eamses most well-known designs are their lounge chairs. They are made up of molded plywood and leather. In addition, they also designed fiberglass furniture, plastic resin chairs and wire mesh chairs. Michigan-based Herman Miller still manufactures them today.

“I’m impressed…I think that it’s well laid out,” said David Dodde from Grand Rapids, Mich. “It is very clean and it really represents the family and the legacy quite accurately. I’m seeing things that I’ve never seen before. It’s very informative. I like the Schuman photos and the Charlie Chaplin photo of the tea ceremony from the Case Study No. 8 house. It’s very fascinating. It showed a glimpse of the day-to-day life of the Eames and their association with Hollywood.”

His friend, Andy Cruz from Wilmington, Delaware, added: “Being able to get a glimpse of their process from sketch to prototype to final product. It’s amazing. The one thing that really jumps out is the personal correspondence and the attention to detail and warmth that comes through not only in their final product but their daily correspondence.”

The Eamses also designed the original House of Cards in 1952. The pattern deck features textured or colored surfaces such as fabrics or Chinese papers. There’s no relation to the BBC or Netflix television series by the same name.

“I think it’s pretty neat to see all of this,” said museum goer Curt Bagne from Farmington Hills, Mich. “I’ve always kind of been interested in architecture of museum. It’s cool to see this culmination of it here in a style that I really enjoy. I like the elephant over there. It’s pretty neat. Just the early adoption of laminate. It’s interesting being in engineering myself. The composite materials are kind of big now. This is kind of the first iteration of that using wood and adhesives to produce three-dimensional parts.”

The World of Charles and Ray Eames also features a modern living room that was formerly displayed at the Detroit Institute of Arts in 1949. The Pathfinder Magazine described it as “a ground breaking exhibit that brought modernism down from the mountain and allowed people to see that modern design was intended to make life more pleasant.”

My favorite part of the exhibit were the toy masks. They were used as props in theatrical skits. Each mask is colorful and unique in their own way. Definitely look for them when you visit the exhibit.

“It’s really great to have a partner like The Henry Ford,” said Eames Demetrios, grandson of Charles & Ray Eames and director of The Eames Office. “Regarding everything as a tool for living or a tool for sitting or a tool for making people’s lives better, whether it was a film or a fabric is a common thread. Many of the objects that are in the Ford Museum have a similar kind of beauty to the things you are going to see in there. The beauty of an object that understands its purpose and its intent. [The exhibit] will keep it alive for another generation.”

Guests who attended the exhibit preview party on Thursday evening enjoyed heavy appetizers and an open bar. Then, the doors to the exhibit swung open for the very first time.

“It’s really a privilege to mount the exhibition here certainly especially now that it’s complemented with an amazing array of exhibits from the work of the Eames Office,” said Catherine Ince, curator of The World of Charles and Ray Eames. “If you haven’t had a chance to visit the Mathematica exhibit, I urge you all to do. It’s absolutely phenomenal. The fact that, when I was spending time in the galleries today, children and adults were captivated by what they were seeing. It says a lot about the ability of those incredible projects to travel across time and still be relevant and meaningful.”

The new exhibit, The World of Charles and Ray Eames, will remain on display through September 3, 2018. During your visit, be sure to check out the permanent Mathematica exhibit featuring mathematical concepts also designed by Charles and Ray Eames.

The Henry Ford is located at 20900 Oakwood Boulevard, Dearborn, MI 48124‑5029. Admission to The World of Charles and Ray Eames is free for members. Non-member ticket prices include admission to the museum and are $23 for adults (12-61), $17.25 for youth (5-11), $21 for seniors (62+) and children 4 and under are free. To purchase tickets, visit thehenryford.org


The Eames Lounge Chair and ottoman are furnishings made of molded plywood and leather, designed by Charles and Ray Eames for the Herman Miller furniture company. (pictured center)


Catherine Ince, curator of The World of Charles and Ray Eames


Museum goers checking out some of the chairs designed by Charles and Ray Eames.


Eames Demetrios, grandson of Charles & Ray Eames and director of Eames Office


Paper-mache heads that were used in theatrical skits.


Attendees enjoyed heavy appetizers and an open bar during the exhibit preview party on May 3, 2018.




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