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EAMES: THE ARCHITECT & THE PAINTER

Director: JASON COHN, BILL JERSEY

83 minutes, U.S.A., 2011, Colour, D-Cinema


With its curvy plywood back and pillowy leather seating, the Eames chair is one of the most recognisable icons of 20th-century design, yet as this fulsome documentary portrait illustrates, it’s merely one among many achievements of this forward-looking, diversely-talented California-based couple. While Charles the drop-out architect and his wife Ray the former painter made their name in the 1950s with stylish, relatively affordable furniture – fans of Mad Men will certainly find much they recognise here – their boundless curiosity and enthusiasm saw them expanding their horizons into photography, corporate image consultancy and even multi-screen movies.

These two were multimedia before the term was even invented, as we see in an array of fascinating archive clips, bolstered by interviews with former work colleagues, and even a judicious splash of animation. A fun-packed, illuminating primer then, which particularly highlights Ray’s contribution to their success, something hitherto undervalued given her public deference to her husband, as per the social attitudes of the day. (Notes by Trevor Johnston.)

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