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Charles & Ray Eames’ "Play Parade" for kids opens at Vitra Design Museum in Weil am Rhein

Germany Architecture News - Sep 08, 2017 - 17:22   18598 views

Charles & Ray Eames’

The Vitra Design Museum opens a new exhibition at the Vitra Design Museum Gallery dedicated to joyful and educational play series of Charles and Ray Eames, who are counted among the most important designers of the 20th century. The exhibition, named as "Play Parade. An Eames Exhibition for Kids", will present a detailed focus on the works of the legendary designer couple. 

The exhibition, developed as one part of four parallel exhibitions which will open later this month simultaneously, presents toys, short films and objects from the toy collection of Charles and Ray Eames in a spatial installation full of shapes and colours. 

Charles & Ray Eames’

Charles and Ray Eames, prototypes for Toy Masks, 1950. Image © Eames Office LLC

The original objects are secured in display cases, but all kinds of replicas and re-editions will be accessible for visitors to play with and explore. The Vitra Design Museum's playful show is the first exhibition project by the Museum that has been conceived especially for children and families. The exhibition officially opens on September 9 and will be on view until February 11, 2018 at the Museum's Gallery.

"Take your pleasure seriously!" - this motto of Charles Eames forms the starting point for the exhibition 'Play Parade' at the Vitra Design Museum Gallery," stated the Vitra Design Museum.

"In a spatial installation full of fascinating shapes and rich colours, visitors can discover and experience Charles and Ray Eames’s understanding of toys as a precursor to great ideas," added the museum in its press release.

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Charles Eames playing with the "House of Cards", Pattern Deck, 1952. Image © Eames Office LLC

Play Parade is a hybrid world of fantasy and museum: the installation shows how the Eameses gave expression to their endless supply of ideas by designing, collecting and displaying all kinds of objects. 

Colourfully patterned paper kites and graphically striking masks from the Eameses’ toy collection serve as a backdrop for their own toy designs from the 1950s. Original artefacts can be viewed in showcases, while visitors are invited to touch and play with replicas and re-editions. 

Early Eames films such as Tops or Parade, featuring a choreography of spinning tops or a series of dolls and toy vehicles parading in front of painted scenery, set the exhibited objects in motion.

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Publicity photograph of "The Toy" in the airplane configuration. Image © Eames Office LLC 

The works on display include "The Toy", a modular construction set consisting of wooden dowels and colourful panels that can be used to make model aeroplanes, towers, tents or sales stands. Visitors can appear in a circus ring wearing Eames animal masks, or erect large structures with the famous "House of Cards". Since the Eameses felt that toys were of equal value and deserved the same attention as everyday furnishings and other utilitarian products, their toy designs were intended not only for children, but also for adults who shared the couple’s enthusiasm for play. 

The exhibition demonstrates how seriously Charles and Ray Eames regarded their work and experiments with toys, and how play can be an important source of creativity – as they proved with their own designs. The scope of this show extends beyond the Eameses’ concepts for toys from the 1950s. Objects from their personal collection of toys reach further back in history, exposing today’s children to the cultural history of play and allowing them to test the timeless quality of these toys.

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Feature of "The Toy" in "Life" magazine, July 16, 1951. Image courtesy of Vitra Design Museum

The Vitra Design Museum will celebrate the works of the legendary designer couple with four major retrospective exhibitions presented under four different titles: Charles & Ray Eames. The Power of Design at the Vitra Design Museum, Ideas and Information. The Eames Films at the Fire Station, Play Parade. An Eames Exhibition for Kids at the Vitra Design Museum Gallery and Kazam! The Furniture Experiments of Charles & Ray Eames at the Vitra Schaudepot in Vitra Campus, Weil am Rhein. 

Under a riveting title "An Eames Celebration", apart from the exhibition Play Parade. An Eames Exhibition for Kids, all the exhibitions will welcome visitors on September 30, 2017 and will be open until 25 February 2018. 

Charles and Ray Eames designed furniture, films, books, exhibitions and media installations, they have influenced generations of designers and continue to shape our everyday culture. No other name in design so clearly represents technical perfection and a timeless aesthetic, and none is more closely associated with the exuberant start-up culture on the American west coast during the post-war era, in which the Eameses played a prominent role.

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Ray Eames posing with a cat photograph, December 1970. Image © Eames Office LLC

The focal point of the exhibition sequence on the Vitra Campus is the major retrospective "Charles & Ray Eames. The Power of Design", which will be shown in the main building of the Vitra Design Museum. 

In the Fire Station, a selection from the Eameses’ cinematic oeuvre of more than 100 films will be presented under the title "Ideas and Information. The Eames Films." 

In the Vitra Design Museum Gallery, the exhibition "Play Parade. An Eames Exhibition for Kids" invites visitors to discover and try out the many toys created by the husband-and-wife team. Finally, the Vitra Schaudepot features the exhibition "Kazam! The Furniture Experiments of Charles & Ray Eames". 

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Charles and Ray Eames, Film still "Toccata for Toy Trains", 1957. Image © Eames Office LLC

Just in time for the 110th birthday of Charles Eames, the three-dimensional collection of the Eames Office will also be introduced in its full scope. These objects have been in the holdings of the Vitra Design Museum since 1988 and include the complete inventory of Eames prototypes and experimental models.

Take a closer look at the video of Vitra Furniture Factory showing how German furniture design and manufacturing company supports innovative architecture through employing cutting-edge contemporary architects.

Top image: Ray Eames with an early prototype of "The Toy" in the patio of the Eames House, 1950. Image © Eames Office LLC

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