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Eames Office celebrates 80 years of design excellence with a Tokyo exhibition

The 80 Years of Design exhibition highlights Charles and Ray Eames’ iconic designs, new editions and brand collaborations, almost all of which are available to purchase globally via Isetan.

  • Eames Office celebrates 80 years of design excellence with a Tokyo exhibition

    Charles and Ray Eames on a Velocette motorcycle, which belonged to the son of friend Warren Kerkman, 1948. Photo courtesy of Eames Office.

Charles and Ray Eames were most famous for their moulded plywood and leather lounge chairs. But the Eameses were more than just industrial designers. They also worked in the fields of architecture, graphic design, fine art and film. In commemoration of the establishment of the Eames Office founded by the American duo in 1941, an exhibition is staged at ISETAN THE SPACE gallery in Tokyo from 5 November 2021 through 5 January 2022.

Eames Office 80 Years of Designn exhibit_credit Ko Tsuchiya, Tokyo
Eames Office 80 Years of Design exhibit. Photo by Ko Tsuchiya

Aptly named 80 Years of Design, the selling exhibition explores the impact of the work of Charles and Ray Eames on society through their influential experimentations in art and technology, groundbreaking innovations in architecture and interiors, and the joy they continue to bring to people of all ages through play and learn. 

A six-metre-long timeline greets visitors at the entrance, weaving together eight decades of design excellence by the Eames Office, which touch upon Charles and Ray Eames’ life and work as a couple (1941 – 1978), Ray’s work following Charles’ death (1978 – 1988), and the studio’s ongoing work until the present day.

Eames Office 80 Years of Design exhibit_credit Ko Tsuchiya, Tokyo
Photo by Ko Tsuchiya

Over 90 historical material, vintage, and iconic works are on display, including the revival of pivotal designs from the archive, new special editions and collaborations developed with longstanding partners and new partners. Some of the highlights include:

1943 Molded Plywood Sculpture

After a rigorous research and production process, Charles and Ray Eames’ 1943 Molded Plywood Sculpture debuts as a limited-edition reproduction and is made available to the public for the first time.

Eames Office 1943 Plywood Sculpture- Photograph by Marc Eggimann
Photo by Marc Eggimann

Special Edition Furniture & Accessories 

Special editions with longstanding partners Herman Miller and Vitra will be available for purchase. In celebration of this historic partnership, and the many products that the duo designed for the manufacturer, Herman Miller has developed five special edition works that honour the Eames’ dedication to material exploration. Additionally, Vitra has produced a special edition of the 1941 Eames Plywood Mobile for the exhibition, alongside other iconic accessories such as the 1945 Eames Elephant

Eames Office x Herman Miller special editions
Photo courtesy of Eames Office

Modular House

Built by a local Japanese model maker, a rare ten-foot-wide, 1:20 scale model of the 1949 Eames House (also known as the Case Study No. 8 House) is on display, which showcases the house, furnishings and surrounding landscape in intricate detail. Additionally, a new architectural model showcases the unrealised plans of the 1951 Eames Modular House (also known as The Kwikset House), which presents the possibility of what could be if communities of this never-built Eames prefab were to be added to today’s architectural landscape.

Eames Office Modular House-1494
Photo courtesy of Eames Office

Eucalyptus Skateboard Deck 

A new partnership with Australian heritage board sports brand, Globe, debuts 100 collectible skateboards for purchase. The 1949 Eames House in Pacific Palisades (part of the Eames Foundation) is undergoing preservation, which includes landscaping and management of eucalyptus trees on the property – two had to be removed as part of this, which sparked the idea to utilise them in the creation of skateboards with Globe. 

Eames Office x Globe Eucalyptus Skateboard Deck 2
Photo by Alex Papke

Reebok

Applying the Eames’ legacy to contemporary culture, the presentation features a unique collaboration with Reebok, which designed special editions of the Club C sneaker with Eames Office. Made for everyday wear, they are available for purchase as the ‘Monotone Pack’ in black and white. In addition, the ‘Ray Eames Signature Pack’ is teased on display and includes a reproduction of Ray Eames’ 1939 Composition painting and 1947 Eames Dot Pattern textile print.

Eames Office x Reebok Trainers_White
Photo courtesy of Eames Office

Ravensburger

Inspired by the Eameses’ thoughtful dedication to toys as tools for learning, the exhibition includes new editions of Charles and Ray’s puzzles created with Ravensburger, an Eames Office partner since 1960.

Eames Office x Ravensburger Puzzle
Photo courtesy of Eames Office

Art of Play

A new partnership with Art of Play debuts an entirely new deck of Eames Playing Cards designed by renowned graphic designer Paula Scher. Each edition is packaged in a letterpress-printed tuck case, printed on sustainable paper using vegetable-based dyes.

Eames Office playing cards tuckbox
Photo courtesy of Eames Office

Related: 5 notable installations from the 2021 London Design Festival’s Designposts initiative


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