Creative Women with Tess McCabe – Ray Eames

by Jenny Butler
Monday 6th June 2011

Today we welcome Tess McCabe to the Guest Blog! This week Tess will be sharing 5 creative women of the past century whose work we still admire today. In Tess’ spare time when she not working as a super graphic designer [remember her ace Hobart map?], Tess organises the Creative Women’s Circle. THIS SATURDAY is the next CWC speaker event, featuring everyone’s favourite Beci Orpin – leave a comment on today’s post to be in the draw to win a double pass! – Jenny x

Bernice ‘Ray’ Eames and a preliminary design for her ‘Tic Tac Toe’ textile

Hello and thanks to Jenny and Lucy for inviting me to guest blog all this week! The Creative Women’s Circle, is dedicated to promoting the work of today’s talented creative women. But this week I’d like to shine a spotlight on some women throughout the last century who without much support or promotion (or the internet!) created work which is still revered and admired today.

Let’s start with a woman who I’m sure many of you are familiar with: Ray Eames. It’s unfortunate that due to Bernice Eames’ nickname, Ray, many assume that the Eames design duo were brothers!

Before meeting Charles in 1941, Ray Kaiser studied abstract expressionism in New York, and she was also the founder of the American Abstract Artists group.

Charles and Ray and collaborated on many design, public art, architecture and film projects throughout their careers.

Covers designs by Ray Eames for the magazine Arts and Architecture (via Library of Congress)

With her background in art and a bold graphic design style, Ray’s work was cutting edge and she designed several covers for the landmark magazine Arts & Architecture during the 1940s.

Ray and the famous Dot Pattern fabric design (via Library of Congress)

Sketches for Crosspatch textile design (via Library of Congress)

These art and graphic design skills easily translated to textiles, and Ray is responsible for some of the most recognisable Eames fabric designs, many of which are displayed in international art museums.

Such was the era that they lived in, at the time most of the Eames’ furniture creations were attributed solely to Charles Eames, but over the decades it has become clear that Ray was most definitely an equal partner in all of their designs, art concepts and film productions.

Ray and Charles with an early prototype.

Staff help Ray Eames with the papier-mache and plaster moulds for their La Chaise chair.

Fun fact: Charles and Ray’s daughter Lucia Eames is also a highly creative woman – in addition to overseeing the running of the Eames Office, Lucia designs a range of landscape furniture and public commissioned works with her daughter Llisa Demetrios.

Tess x

by Jenny Butler
Monday 6th June 2011


  • Michelle 5 years ago

    Oh, loving the cover work for Arts & Architecture! Love all her work, she’s an inspiration.

  • Cindy 5 years ago

    And I love that they also introduced great working conditions for workers especially women that were definately befoe there time. Easily my favourite industrial designers ever. Loved it thanks Tess

  • Beth 5 years ago

    fascinating! one question though, how does Beatrice shorten to Ray?

  • Lou 5 years ago

    Aaahh…Family working together xx

  • jen hall 5 years ago

    what a great week ahead, ray eames is one of my favourite people! cant wait to see who’s next…

  • Camilla 5 years ago

    looking forward to a very inspiring chick power week!

  • Judy 5 years ago

    That Eames family is big – I always thought it was just one person.

  • Paula 5 years ago

    Tess, Very exciting to seeing you on here. Looking forward to seeing more exciting women design gems unfold. Eeeekkkk I am embarrassed to admit I had thought they were brothers.

  • laura 5 years ago

    thanks for some great info, btw i am so excited to hear beci is doing a talk> i didnt know. should be awesome xx

  • Rosa 5 years ago

    looking forward to this series. Thank you! Very inspiring.

  • Katie Frederick 5 years ago

    Eames makes me do backflips! Thank-you for adding a splash of design to my day. Who ever thought Eames used papier mache moulds?

  • I totally had no idea Eames was 2 people at all! I always imagined Eames as a skinny man with a thin moustache and a pinstripe suit. Hmm.

  • Carla 5 years ago

    A recent publication called ‘Handcrafted Modern’ contains a photographic essay of the Eames private house in California. It is such a beautiful space filled with their incredible collections. Well worth a look. It is awesome reading your posts and I’m keenly looking forward to tomorrow and Friday. My favourite would have to be your post on Gunta Stolzl. As a weaver myself, she has been a favourite of mine for a while, I even named my loom after her :)

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