In the spring of 1959 I graduated from
Washington University in St. Louis,
a newly minted designer with a
Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree.
I gained employment at Monsanto,
paying my dues by doing paste
ups for labels for things like 2,4,5-T
(Trichlorophenoxyacetic acid), which, within
a few years, gained fame when it became
broadly known as Agent Orange. My labels!
After a few short months the elation
I felt as a young designer in the bosom
of an important corporation, turned to a sense of
misgiving. Fueled by strictures described as
"Corporate Identity", I was becoming a
singer with an one octave range.
My work: defined by sans serif typefaces.
Bodoni, no... Caslon, never! Unhappily constrained...
silly... and imagining a life without cherished Baskerville,
I idealistically tendered my letter of resignation.
Unfettered, and with boundless faith in the future,
I began offering graphic design services to the
St. Louis professional, commercial and institutional
communities. I quickly opened a small studio. hanging
my shingle on a shingle clad two car garage in
Clayton, Missouri. It flourished. I designed all
all manner of things and I drew... lots.
Yin: cards for Hallmark... Yang: cartoons for Playboy.
I consulted with architects. Life was good.
Led by Robert Moses, New Yorkers organized a
Grand Exposition, a Worlds Fair titled
"Peace through Understanding", to be held
over two summers time at Flushing Meadows,
just beyond LaGuardia Airport. IBM commissioned
a Pavilion, to be designed by Eero Saarinen,
with exhibits and film by The Office of Charles Eames.
Early in 1964, as Charles said, "the train was
leaving the station", I locked my studio door and,
with invitation in hand, went to Venice, California
to join the Eames Office to help as I might
in the charette leading to completion of the work.
In late April the Fair opened. In early May, back in St. Louis, I
unlocked my studio door and, changed forever,
resumed my practice. I was soon consulting
with the still nascent HOK.
I joined the firm the following year.
Given the firm's "mandatory" requirements,
Social Security eligibility, a cache of well over
three million frequent flier miles, and
boundless faith in the future,I retired from HOK...
but not from creative endeavor.
I hung out my old shingle
on my new shingle-clad studio
which sits upon a wooded hillside, beside a stream
near a fountain and a garden,
where I continue to do what I do best:
think about better ways of doing things,
design stuff and draw and make art.
Life is Good.
The Office of Charles P. Reay is open!
Nota Bene: Several projects shown in this website
were designed during the time I was employed
at Hellmuth, Obata and Kassabaum.
More recently, some projects have been
completed in collaboration with HOK
while most have been executed solely by
the Office of Charles P. Reay LLC.