Charles and Ray Eames are among the most important American designers of this century.  They are best known for their groundbreaking contributions to architecture, furniture design (e.g., the Eames Chair), industrial design and manufacturing, and the photographic arts.
Charles Eames was born in 1907 in St. Louis, Missouri. He attended school there and developed an interest in engineering and architecture.  After attending Washington University on scholarship for two years and being thrown out for his advocacy of Frank Lloyd Wright, he began working in an architectural office.  In 1929, he married his first wife, Catherine Woermann (they divorced in 1941), and a year later Charles' only child, daughter Lucia was born.  In 1930, Charles started his own architectural office.  He began extending his design ideas beyond architecture and received a fellowship to Cranbrook Academy of Art in Michigan, where he eventually became head of the design department.

Ray Kaiser Eames was born in Sacramento, California in the middle of the century's second decade.  She studied painting with Hans Hofmann in New York before moving on to Cranbrook Academy where she met and assisted Charles and Eero Saarinen in preparing designs for the Museum of Modern Art's "Organic Furniture Competition."  Charles and Eero's designs, created by molding plywood into complex curves, won them the two first prizes.


HANS WEGNER (1914-2007)

Hans Wegner’s trade began shortly after his apprenticeship to a cabinetmaker at age 14, and it matured during and after his furniture design studies at the Copenhagen Technical College. From there, his career as designer and maker of fine wooden furniture accelerated. The fine quality, simplicity and tradition of Wegner’s works placed him among the school of Danish modernists of the 1950s.



EERO SAARINEN (1910-1961)
The son of architect and Cranbrook Academy of Art director Eliel Saarinen and his wife, textile artist Loja, Eero Saarinen studied sculpture in Paris and architecture at Yale before working on furniture design with Norman Bel Geddes and practicing architecture with his father. He collaborated on several projects in furniture design with his friend, Cranbrook alumnus Charles Eames, and opened his own practice in Bloomfield Hills in 1950. Among the many buildings for which he is known are the Dulles International Airport in Washington, DC, The Gateway Arch in St. Louis, Missouri, and the TWA Terminal at Kennedy International Airport in New York. He was the recipient of numerous awards and the subject of many exhibitions.


HARRY BERTOIA (1915-1978)

Italian sculptor, university lecturer and furniture designer Harry Bertoia displayed a unique stroke of genius with his patented Diamond Chair for Knoll International in 1952. Bertoia was an inventor of form and an enricher of furniture design with his introduction of a new material: he turned industrial wire rods into a design icon. Educated at Detroit Technical High School, the Detroit School of Arts and Crafts and Cranbrook Academy of Art in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan, Bertoia taught metal crafts at Cranbrook. He worked with Charles Eames to develop his signature molded plywood chairs. Eero Saarinen commissioned him to design a metal sculptured screen for the General Motors Technical Center in Detroit. His awards include the craftsmanship medal from the American Institute of Architects, as well as AIA’s Gold Medal.

ARNE JACOBSEN (1902-1971)

As a muti-talented architect, Arne Jacobsen conceived a signature design language that merged modernism with his Scandinavian reverence for nature. He possessed a unique ability to balance the bold and feminine form against superior function and industrial capability. Jacobsen's relationship with Fritz Hansen, which began in 1932, furthered his name and influence in furniture history. His talents made him one of the outstanding designers of the 20th century.

AALTO ALVAR (1898-1976)

Alvar Aalto studied art, design and form through his extensive European travels, architecture studies in Helsinki and lengthy, experimental career. After testing the potentials of wood - especially bentwood - with his first wife, architect Aino Mariso, he designed furniture and several buildings, including a sanitorium in Paimo and mucho of the Sunila Cellulose Factory. In 1935 he co-established the first modern furniture shop in Helsinki. Two years later he designed glass pieces for Ittala, including the Savoy vase, later produced by Knoll. Aalto enjoyed a well-recognized career, celebrated with many honors, teaching and guest lecture positions, as well as several exhibitions.

(and mid century modern chair design of course)