A view of the Barneys window with street art takes on the classic Eames plywood chair (photo used with permission of Luna Park)

Yesterday, Barneys installed 20 Eames plywood chairs in one of their world famous Madison Avenue store windows but what made this display at the department store different was the mashup of a high modernist 20th C. design icon with the brash individual style of some of New York’s most active street art talents.

A view of the Barneys display, with a view of chairs by (clockwise from top left) Peru Ana Peru, UR®New York, Aakash Nihalani, Cern, Blanco, NohJColey, and Damon Ginandes. (photo by Luna Park & used with permission)

Curated by artist Billi Kid and photographer Luna ParkEames Inspiration is a charity auction that will benefit Operation Design’s New York Educational + Design initiative, which their website explains, “originated from the belief that great design creates a better environment for learning.” What a great idea!

This isn’t the first time Kid & Park have joined forces to curate — they also worked together on the Great Outdoors show at Williamsburg’s ArtBreak Gallery in May 2009 — but it may be the first time their talents have been given such a visible spot on a tony stretch of Madison Avenue.

Each of the pieces are up for sale and you can see for yourself that they would be a great addition to any home or office.

I asked Kid via email what he thinks is unique about this street/design collaboration:

Having been a furniture designer in a past lifetime, I’ve always had the deepest respect and unwavering admiration for Ray and Charles Eames. Their work exemplified the perfect balance between form, function and the creative process. Merging their iconic molded plywood lounge chair with my latest passion, graffiti and street art, is a dream come true. I feel it completes a circle of sorts — and restores my confidence that worlds can collide in collaboration with clear and effective results. All of the participating artists took this project to heart and, in my view, delivered artwork beyond my wildest expectations. The collection is amazing as a whole, while each individual chair holds its distinct expression as an individual piece of art. Our success will be measured by the happy faces and wide-open eyes seen on pedestrians viewing honest to goodness graffiti and street art from a different kind of street level perspective.

Blanco (his chair) is one of the participating artists, and he explained to me what it was like to work with the Eames masterpiece:

Working on the Eames chair reminded me of the chairs we had in first and second grade in school, which were basically knock-offs with plastic instead of wood. I honestly didn’t know who Charles and Ray Eames were until this project, but while I was working on it, I visited the MoMA and saw one of their tables. The molded wood was very nice to work with, I tried to incorporate the grain of the wood into my piece a little bit.

Skewville’s contribution to Eames Inspiration (via flickr.com/billikidbrand)

The online auction began on May 11th and will continue until June 1st. Eames Inspiration features chairs by Aakash Nihalani, Billi Kid, Blanco, Cake, Celso, Cern, Damon Ginandes, DarkcloudDavid Cooper, Elbow-Toe, James and Karla Murray, Joe Iurato, Matt Siren, NohJColey, Peru Ana Ana Peru, Skewville, Sofia Maldonado, Stikman, UR®New York and Veng. The event is sponsored by Public Works DepartmentHerman Miller, Barneys New York, Eames FoundationEames OfficeArt Scout,and Cheryl Hazan Gallery.

You can bid over at Operation Design’s eBay auction — but be warned that bidding starts at $1,000 for each of these functional beauties. Though some of the designs will make you feel like you’re getting an absolute steal.

Hrag Vartanian is editor-in-chief and co-founder of Hyperallergic.

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