What Charles and Ray Eames can teach the modern-day designer

Number 1 - Don’t stop playing

From the age of three Ray was creating her own paper dolls and making outfits for them. This expanded in their later years when they would ask friends to try on different adults. They never stopped playing with ideas and that childlike desire to make never left. It wasn’t about the money, it was about the adventure. When it becomes all about the pressure of making money it can lead to a drought in creativity — if the well is dry, start playing again.

Number 2 - Don’t box yourself in

Charles and Ray seemed to refuse limits. If they wanted to branch into a certain area they just did, if they wanted to have a go at film, they saw the vision and just did it. Ray herself studied painting before she decided to focus more on design. She said, “I never gave up painting I just changed my palette.” Who says you must stop where you are, in the field you are in, with the materials you use. There’s a difference between purposeful quitting (or postponement) and losing your momentum. Don’t be afraid to branch off — it might lead somewhere wonderful — if it doesn’t, it probably won’t be wasted in the end.

Number 3 - Don’t lose your head      

Remember those should be remembered. Charles had a bit of an ego and it was documented that in 1946 at an exhibit at the Museum of Modern Art he named a show completely after himself ‘forgetting’ that others had contributed including his wife! Who knows why he did that. It goes to show that being brilliant and having questionable character is something that we all face. The exception to this is perhaps Max DePree, the chair of Herman Miller. His style of leadership is written about and held up as an example to follow. You can lead in a field or lead the field - we get to choose.

Number 4 - Don’t always try to fit in

Just create — do what you do. Andy Warhol said, “Don’t think about making art, just get it done. Let everyone else decide if it’s good or bad, whether they love it or hate it. While they are deciding to make even more art.” Henri Matisse said, “Creativity creates courage.” Have you lost yours?

Branch off
Stay cool
Keep going


Photos by Faye Hedges