The creative genius of midcentury designers Ray and Charles Eames is timeless. No matter the year, or the current cultural zeitgeist, their designs have a way of feeling relevant. The latest example is a collaboration between the Eames Office and Australian skateboard manufacturer Globe, in the form of new decks printed with iconic Eames designs.
Eames fans might recognize the outlines of some of their favorite pieces, subtracted from matte white screen-printed ink to reveal the boards’ surfaces. These include the Solar Do-Nothing Machine (1957; a solar device resembling a group of gears and ornaments having a party), Plywood Sculpture (1943; a curvy, meandering wooden sculpture that helped inspire their plywood furniture designs), and Hang-It-All (1953; an iconic coat rack composed of ball-like hooks floating from a wire frame). Meanwhile, Globe’s Blazer cruiser skateboard is adorned with colorful pattern art inspired by the Eames’s The Toy. (1951; A kit composed of squares and triangles meant for building pretty much anything.)
Eames Office and Globe collaborated to design the boards, which include 7.25, 7.75, 8, and 8.25-inch-wide decks. Most come with a kit for wall hanging, but they can be fitted for skating should you want to ride a work of art (the Blazer already comes with trucks and wheels). The press used to steam bend and shape the boards, notes Dave Gitlin, Globe’s creative director, derives from the Eames’s 1941 Kazam! Machine, which helped the couple mold most of their plywood furniture. The Eames’s pieces were often veneered, not coincidentally, with walnut and rosewood. The boards are then CNC cut and drilled, among other finishing processes.
“There’s such a connection there,” notes Gitlin. “If you look at the Eames Lounge and Ottoman, the base is almost exactly like a skateboard. . . . For me as a product designer, the principles they popularized almost 70 years ago still provide an essential framework for what makes a compelling item.” In addition to product designs, the smaller decks are printed with archival black and white pictures of the corresponding Eames products.
Byron Atwood, CEO of the Eames Office (and a grandson of the Eames’s), says the office was impressed by Globe’s commitment sustainability—the company works with the Montana-based National Forest Foundation to plant more than three times the amount of trees that they harvest. The two brands, he adds, have a lot more in common: They’re both detail-obsessed specialists in molded plywood, family businesses (Globe was founded by Melbourne-based brothers Stephen, Peter and Matt Hill, who are still active leaders of the company), and see eye to eye on material innovation and concepts like “serious play,” or as Atwood puts it, “the concept of play being formative in terms of helping people grow.”
The two companies first collaborated in 2020 to develop a limited-edition set of Eucalyptus boards crafted from an ailing tree that Charles and Ray had nicknamed “Molly,” felled for the purposes of conserving the Eames House in Pacific Palisades, CA. Such partnerships, says Atwood, are part of a larger strategy to bring the Eames’s designs—and their philosophies like experimenting through play, learning by doing, and creating for the better good—to a broader audience. In recent years the Eames Office has partnered with shoe brand Reebok and clothing brand Gelato Pique to create Eames-emblazoned merchandise, and Atwood notes there are more ideas in the works.
“We were concerned about being stuck in one body of work when there was actually so much more that could be shared,” says Atwood. “This helps a younger demographic see the value of Charles and Ray’s work.”
Globe, too, is constantly looking to stretch its creative muscles by branching into unexpected territory. “We like projects that are not so straightforward—that push us a bit,” notes Matt Wong, president of Globe product. That sounds like a good recipe for any kind of creativity. The walnut and rosewood-veneer boards will be available for purchase on the Eames and Globe websites (and select stores) February 5.
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