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Eames: The Architect and the Painter

Eames: The Architect and the Painter

Released 3 August 2012
Director Jason Cohn, Bill Jersey
Cast


Charles Eames, Ray Eames, James Franco, Jeannine Claudia Oppewall, Paul Schrader
Writer(s) Jason Cohn
Producer(s) Jason Cohn, Bill Jersey
Origin United States
Running Time 83 minutes
Genre Documentary, biography
Rating TBC
62

Design for life.

Anybody familiar with the office environment that exists in organisations like Pixar, Valve or Google which encourages free thought and creativity may think that such a concept is a 21st century development. But the idea of combining artistic freedom with industrial design was a central tenant of the studio run by Charles and Ray Eames from its foundation in the late 1940s.

Eames: The Architect and the Painter chronicles the life of this studio, and the art produced within by husband and wife design team Charles and Ray. The most famous design to come out of the studio was probably the “Eames Chair”, a design Mad Men fans will no doubt recognise, given how much influence it had on American design of the 1950s and 60s.

The work of the Eames studio mirrored the technological developments of the twentieth century, particular computer technology, evident in the Eames film Powers of Ten, or the cartoons they produced for a little fledgling company called IBM.

Narrated by James Franco, Eames: The Architect and the Painter is a clever and well-made documentary with plenty of artistic flourishes worthy of its subject matter. There is much for art enthusiasts to appreciate, as well as more serious issues such as American sexual politics of the 1950s (Ray Eames was an equal partner in much of the work, but was often seen as the subservient wife to her husband Charles).

The fun and light hearted animated sections can contrast somewhat with the sombrely handled depiction of the darker moments of the life of Charles and Ray, but overall the documentary is skilfully made and easy to follow. It is well worth a watch for anybody with an interest in art, or anybody who has wished they could get paid for doodling in the margins of the report they are supposed to be writing.

- Bernard O’Rourke