Within minutes of entering the Charles and Ray Eames retrospective at the Barbican, I found myself chuckling at the names of the colours in which their iconic fibreglass chairs were first produced: greige, elephant-hide grey and parchment. These obsessive distinctions between similar colours demonstrate both the attention to detail and gentle wit present in much of their work. Indeed, the complete range of items curated for the show reiterated this; their joyful xylophone musical tower, prototype leg splints, all displaying the depth of their creativity.
For me, what makes the Eames a particular delight for any student of design is their celebration of process and practicality. Their 1958 India Report began with a Bhagavad Gita poem, which warns that the desire for fruits should never be the motive for your work.
To finish, a sound bite from the exhibition, demonstrating the simple accessibility of some of the Eames' philosophy, which is arguably a part of their popularity:
"What finally matters is that your house works the way you want it to. And that it is a pleasant place to be in." Ray Eames 1959