Chestnut Park Real Estate Ltd, Brokerage
1300 Yonge Street, Suite 100 Toronto, Ontario M4T 1X3

Toronto Luxury Real Estate: Charles and Ray Eames

Happy New Year!  Most people who know me know that I love design and architecture. This year, I will be writing about various architects and designers who have made an impact in the design world over the years.

My first designers to highlight are Charles and Ray Eames. The inspiration to write about them was a gift from my daughter, a book called From A to Eames: A visual guide to Mid-Century Modern Design. This book is a great resource for those that want to hone their knowledge of all things mid-century.

I have had the privilege of visiting their iconic Eames House (Case Study House  no. 8) in the Pacific Palisades. Art and Architecture magazine commissioned several architects and designers to create progressive modest homes in the Southern California area from the 1940s through the 1960s. Charles and Ray used the building as both their home and studio space. I was surprised how set back this home was, given it is a full ocean view lot, and at how shaded it was. It shows us how design has evolved, but the home itself is brilliant in its simplicity. I find the home reminiscent of the well-known plywood shelving they designed.

Probably the most recognizable pieces of furniture that Charles and Ray Eames designed were the Eames Lounge Chair and Ottoman. A timeless, classic pair that blends form and function together seamlessly.

Charles worked collaboratively with Eero Saarinen to mold a single piece of plywood into a chair creating the Organic Chair. It won an award but could never be mass-produced at that time. Recent improvements in manufacturing have allowed for the chair to be mass-produced and it is available once again. 

Another signature creation is the Molded Fiberglass/Plastic Chair, part of a line that now includes bar stools and rocking chairs. They come in a variety of colours and again blend form with comfort. Perfect for kitchen tables and children’s desk chairs! They were originally manufactured in fibreglass but Herman Miller and Charles discovered that fibreglass was a hazardous, non-recyclable material so they switched to plastic in 1989. They have just now started manufacturing on a limited scale and higher price point in a fibreglass that is more sustainable than the previous fibreglass of over 75 years ago.

Office furniture was a big part of their furniture collection. There is a large selection of plywood storage units to fit any space with both open shelving as well as compartments to stow the clutter away. They also created a simple plywood and wire desk that complements the storage units.

The soft back office chair is one of my favourites. I have one at our kitchen desk as well as in my office and they are extremely comfortable.

The couple also created some fabulous accesories. The Eames Elephant is great for a child’s room. The elegant design of the Eames House Bird looks great on a shelf.  Another favourite piece of mine is the Walnut Stool that looks like a spool of thread.

The Eames Molded Plywood screen was created so long ago; Charles and Ray were ahead of their time in thinking of dividing open space into cubicle areas.

I am a strong advocate for buying original designs. Please be mindful as there are many knock-off companies that are creating pieces that look identical to Eames originals but are not authentic. I am all about quality over quantity. When searching for any Eames product, be sure you are buying from an authorized dealer. There are many Toronto stores that carry Eames products: Quasi Modo, Hollace Cluny, Design Within Reach, just to name a few. For the real purists out there who want only vintage pieces, there are quite a few local stores that carry them, such as Studio Pazo, Vintage Home Boutique, Decade Five Furniture, Vintage Furniture Hut and Mid Century Modern Toronto

Stay tuned for more highlights of exceptional designers and architects and happy 2020!