I’ve always considered Jack Spade to be like some sort of Norman Rockwell with a pulp colored palette. Rockwell’s canvases immortalized this idyllic, ever-presently nostalgic sense of America, that I think is shared by Jack Spade and their line of candy striped shirts, and combed out sweaters. And yet, as I entered the Jack Spade showroom on Monday afternoon, what I saw in front of me wasn’t so much Rockwell as it was Ray and Charles Eames. With the brand now well into their second decade, I suppose it only makes sense that Jack Spade would draw inspiration from the design world’s first power couple. After all it was the clean lines and primary colors of the Eames’ work that helped usher this country from our quaint Rockwellian days into the brave new world.
Conversations about any form of design are often rife with tedious exaggerations but when it comes to Charles and Ray Eames, hyperbole is the only right way, as it’s really quite impossible to overstatement their influence on contemporary design (see there you go, hyperbole number one.) From that first day they opened their legendary studio in 1943 at 901 Washington Boulevard in Venice, California the Eames’ consistently reshaped what it meant to be an American designer. What began with a chair, the molded plywood Eames Lounge, grew into something so much greater. To say the Eames’ were merely a pair of furniture designers would be doing them a great disservice, they were architects, filmmakers, concept artists, toy-makers, and graphic designers. In a word they were visionaries, and their vision was balance, a subject that’s paramount but oft forgotten in design. Along the spectrum of design, between the cluttered and the minimal, the Eames’ knew how to hit that sweet spot and execute concepts that worked, not only on an aesthetic level, but almost more importantly on a practical one.