Charles and Ray Eames are well-known for their contributions to furniture and industrial design, films, exhibitions, toys, and architecture. They approached problem solving as an adventure, combining discipline with a sense of play. Together with the multi-talented Eames Office staff, the pair set a standard for design excellence that still inspires current generations.
Come visit us at the Eames House and gain a greater understanding of the Eameses’ work. As Eames Demetrios, Chairman of the Board, wrote in An Eames Primer: “The journey of creating this house—and the finished product—resonate with many of the themes of their other work: the guest/host relationship, the honest use of materials, universalizing from the specific, and, above all, the learn-by-doing process.”
Charles once said, “Eventually everything connects—people, ideas, objects… the quality of the connections is the key to quality per se… I don’t believe in this ‘gifted few’ concept, just in people doing things they are really interested in doing. They have a way of getting good at whatever it is”.
We are delighted to share the joy and philosophy of Charles and Ray Eames and to preserve the Eames House for future generations to delight in.
The Eameses are best known for their groundbreaking contributions to architecture, furniture design, industrial design and manufacturing, and the photographic arts.
Charles Eames was born in 1907 in St. Louis, Missouri. After attending Washington University in St. Louis on scholarship for two years and being thrown out for his advocacy of Frank Lloyd Wright, he began working in an architectural office. In 1929, he married his first wife, Catherine Woermann (they divorced in 1941), and a year later Charles’s only child, Lucia, was born. In 1930, Charles started his own architectural office. In 1938, he received a fellowship to Cranbrook Academy of Art in Michigan where he soon became head of the design department.
Ray Kaiser Eames was born in 1912 in Sacramento, California. After studying fashion design at Bennett Woman’s College in New York, she moved to New York City and studied painting with Hans Hofmann, becoming a founding member in 1936 of the American Abstract Artists. After moving to Cranbrook Academy, she met and assisted Charles and Eero Saarinen in preparing designs for the Museum of Modern Art’s Organic Furniture Competition; their molded plywood furniture won two first prizes.
Charles and Ray married in 1941 and moved to California where they developed a process for molding plywood. During World War II, the United States Navy commissioned them to produce molded plywood splints, stretchers, and experimental glider shells. In 1946, Evans Products began producing the Eameses’ molded plywood furniture. Their molded plywood chair was called “the chair of the century” by the influential architectural critic Esther McCoy.
Herman Miller soon took over production, and Vitra started manufacturing in Europe. They continue to manufacture the furniture today. Together with the Eames Office, they are our Eames Foundation’s Founding Sponsors, dedicated to sharing the Eameses’ approaches to life, work, and design.