Eames Radio – a design classic ahead of its time

A radio designed by Charles and Ray Eames in 1946 is now available for the first time, as Vitra has launched the model together with the award-winning audio brand, Revo.

Vitra Eames Radio

CHARLES AND RAY EAMES, some of the most significant American designers of the 20th century, are known not only for what they achieved in architecture, graphic design, photography, and exhibition design but also especially for their iconic furniture and progressive plywood molding technique.

The Eameses applied the method they had developed at the beginning of the 1940s in furniture classics such as the Plywood Group series and the Eames Lounge Chair, but also in other products, such as leg splints and radios. Radio manufacturers were interested in plywood cases because they were durable, aesthetic and more affordable than the heavy plastic cases used at the time.

Charles and Ray Eames on a motorcycle
Charles and Ray Eames at the end of the 1940s.

Approximately 200 000 radios designed by the Eameses were sold by 1952. The designer couple’s personal favorite, a design from 1946, did not make it into production, because the manufacturers were looking for more traditional models. The compact size of the radio and its reduced lines were ahead of their time.

The compact size of the radio and its reduced lines were ahead of its time.

The Eames Radio, launched over 70 years later, combines Charles and Ray Eames’ original design with the latest audio technology. Vitra, the official manufacturer for Eames products in Europe and the Middle East, chose Revo as the technical executor of the radio. The British audio brand has won several Red Dot and iF design awards with its innovative products.

Prototypes of the Eames Radio
The Eameses were hoping that manufacturers would take an interest in their modern radios and sent photos of the prototypes to the Interiors magazine. Photo: Eames Office LLC, 1946.
Vitra Eames Radio
Vitra and Revo developed the new Eames Radio for two years.
Vitra Eames Radio
The updated radio model features Revo’s latest audio technology.

The elegant casing of the Eames Radio with its round corners is crafted from dark walnut, while the front panel and the back are made from powder coated black steel. Its technical features include FM and DAB/DAB+ tuners, an alarm function, a jack for headphones and a Bluetooth connection with Qualcomm® aptX™ technology, which enables high-quality streaming music from a smartphone, tablet or other devices.

The radio is a future collectible and was introduced to the public at the 2018 Maison & Objet fair in Paris. Only a limited edition of 999 Eames Radios has been manufactured, and they are available from selected Vitra retailers.

Vitra Eames Radio
Not only is the Eames Radio a high-quality audio device, it is also a timeless design object.

Charles and Ray Eames in short:

Charles Ormond Eames Jr. was born on 17th December 1907 in St. Louis, Missouri, and "Ray" Bernice Alexandra Eames, née Kaiser, was born on 15th December 1912 in Sacramento, California.
• Charles Eames studied architecture at Washington University in St. Louis and at the invite of architect Eliel Saarinen, continued his studies at Cranbrook Academy of Art in Michigan, where he later worked as a teacher and led the department of industrial design.
• After graduating from New York’s Bennet College, Ray Eames studied abstract expressionism with artist Hans Hofman until 1937 and enrolled in Cranbrook Academy of Art in 1940.
• In 1940 Charles and Eero Saarinen won the first prize in the Organic Designs in Home Furnishings design competition organized by MoMA. One of the pieces they entered in the competition was the Organic Chair.
• The designer couple got married in 1941 and moved to Los Angeles.
• Well-known pieces of work by the Eameses: Eames Elephant (1945), Plywood Group LCW armchair (1945/46), Eames House (1949), Eames DSR chair (1950), Hang It All (1953), Eames Lounge Chair (1956).
• Charles Eames passed away on 21st August 1978 and Ray Eames on 21st August 1988.

Order the Eames Radio from Finnish Design Shop >

See also:

Products designed by the Eameses >
All Vitra products >

Text: Laura Hallikainen Images: Vitra and Eames Office, LLC

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