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Stamps Commemorate Charles and Ray Eames

May 14, 2008

By Josephine Minutillo

Charles Eames would have turned 100 on June 17. To commemorate his birthday, the United States Postal Service is issuing 42-cent stamps featuring the collaborative work of the influential designer and his wife, Ray.

Eames stamps
Image courtesy USPS

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To reflect the couple’s rich body of work in furniture and toy design, architecture, and film, Derry Noyes, one of six art directors employed by USPS, has created a colorful pane of 16 different stamps featuring some of their iconic designs, including the Low Chair Wood, or LCW, (1945), House of Cards (1952), Hang-It-All coat rack (1953), Eames Lounge and Ottoman (1956), and Eames Storage Unit (1950). Also included is a photograph of the Eames House in Southern California, one of 25 homes built as part of the Case Study House Program. The couple moved into the house in 1949 and stayed there for the remainder of their lives. Charles died of a brain aneurysm in 1978; Ray passed away in 1988, ten years to the day after her husband’s death.

Noyes says “the stamps give a real sense of the history and richness of the duo,” adding that it is unusual for the Postal Service to issue such a diverse collection of stamps on a single subject. She also points out that with the proliferation of retailers like Design Within Reach, which sells Eames-designed furniture, the couple is experiencing newfound fame with the current generation of design lovers.

The government’s Citizens’ Stamp Advisory Committee annually recommends approximately 25 subjects of broad national interest for commemorative stamps. “There is enormous public interest,” says chairman Ron Robinson, citing the 50,000 suggestions the committee receives each year. The idea for an Eames stamp came through Noyes, whose parents were friends of the Eameses, and was fully embraced by the committee. Noyes says she has many childhood memories of the accomplished couple, whose modern, youthful designs embodied America’s spirit after World War II. “It is daunting to make anything work at stamp size,” Noyes explains, noting that she especially “wanted to do right by them.”

A dedication ceremony will take place on Charles’ birthday at the Eames Office, a store and exhibition gallery in Santa Monica, California, that aims to continue the Eames legacy. Charles and Ray’s five grandchildren run the office, with the support of Charles’ daughter, Lucia Eames. One of the grandsons, Eames Demetrios, is director.

 

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