The Furniture Society recently announced this year’s Award of Distinction honorees, Warren Eames and Bebe Pritam Johnson. The dynamic pair founded the Pritam & Eames furniture gallery in East Hampton, N.Y. The annual award will be presented June 19-21 at the studio furniture group’s conference in Port Townsend, Wash.
The award is given to individuals who are recognized as having a profound impact on the field. The honorees exemplify lives devoted to study, work and craft and to the education of others.
“I think it is safe to say that without Bebe and Warren it is unlikely that there would be a Furniture Society as we know it. I know I would have never been on the radar without Bebe’s encouragement. I owe her a great deal. Most of us know Bebe and Warren as the thoughtful, careful and intentional owners of Pritam & Eames,” says Andrew Glasgow, past executive director of the Furniture Society and the American Craft Council.
Johnson says the award is very meaningful to her and Warren in recognizing their efforts toward developing the studio furniture movement throughout their career.
“My first thought was what a wonderful group of individuals that we’ll be joining because I have attended a number of conferences and actually was very active in The Furniture Society for a number of years and, of course, more than three decades of Pritam and Eames. These names are a cornerstone of this studio furniture movement, so it really is quite an honor,” Johnson says.
Past honorees include Sam Maloof, James Krenov, Tage Frid, Wendell Castle, Art Espenet Carpenter, John Makepeace, Alan Peters, Jere Osgood, Jonathan Fairbanks, William Keyser, Garry Knox Bennett, Judy Kensley McKie, Tommy Simpson, Michael Fortune, Walker Weed, Wendy Maruyama, Vladimir Kagan, John Cederquist and Roseanne Somerson.
Johnson received a master’s in communications from Boston University, then became director of Asian Program Operations at the Council on International Educational Exchange in New York. Eames studied law and received a Bachelor of Laws degree from the University of Illinois and pursued graduate economics at MIT. His career took a turn, however, when the Johnsons moved to New York and he ended up studying film at Columbia University where he received an MFA.
In the early 1980s, they developed Pritam & Eames, a business that has sustained them, given a boost to grateful makers and played an important part in building the dialogue that underpins today’s studio furniture movement, according to the society. Last year, they published a book, “Speaking of Furniture: Conversations with 14 American Masters,” which will be given as a membership benefit to any non-member attendees that join the Society during the June conference.
Contact: The Furniture Society. Tel: 828-255-1949. http://furnsoc.org.
This article originally appeared in the June 2014 issue.