I thought about this one for a long time. Known for once saying, "I hate furniture," I struggled to choose a designer I could easily call my favorite. While I appreciate furniture for it's functionality--I do love my bed--it's often hard for me to appreciate it from a design standpoint. I waffled between Le Corbusier, Charlotte Perriand, Emile Galle, Josef Hoffmann (can you tell I like the early 20th century?) and many others before deciding that Charles and Ray Eames win this one. (They're also featured on Frasier!)
They began designing and producing when decorative arts and industrial design collided and their resulting body of work is eye-catching, Modern, and elegant, yet homey. Unlike Chihuly, I didn't know the Eameses until last year's survey class, where I discovered the Lounge Chair, Wood, designed in the mid-1940s, and was immediately captured. The photo above is the LCW I found in the 20th Century Gallery at the Victoria and Albert Museum. The smooth wood, the rounded edges, and the stable four-legged form all speak volumes about design, comfort, and use of new materials. They were able to use modern machining techniques and materials like plywood in the Post-War era to create affordable and comfortable furniture.
I also love the lounge chair and ottoman for it's molded plywood, which they don't try to hide, and the leather upholstery that always makes me feel as though it belongs somewhere between an office and a rec room. Charles and Ray Eames also experimented with molded fiberglass, after working with their friend Eero Saarinen on his womb chair. Charles and Ray, however, were the first to leave the new material exposed and are credited with developing a modern, sleeker aesthetic for their furniture.
Their designs are now available through Herman Miller, should you too fall in love.
Honorable Mention: John Belter and his fabulous tete-a-tete.