Charles Ormond Eames (1907-1978), in collaboration with his wife Ray Eames, achieved international recognition as a versatile designer of buildings, interiors, furniture, rugs, toys, stage and movie sets, urban plans, industrial products, and exhibitions, as well as by his work in photography, films, and graphics. Intrinsic in all of his work is an understanding of modern materials and technology tempered by a unique design sensibility:
People instinctively recognize the goodness in a sailboat, an axe, an airplane, or a huge dam and, consciously or unconsciously, get from them a feeling of aesthetic satisfaction.... The modern designer tries to refine his work until it contains as much of that goodness as possible. ... In it there is no room for pretense or snobbery or for value results by the costliness of materials used. Certainly the future cannot be considered hopeless as long as designers continue to honor the accomplishment of producing a very inexpensive article that can serve well and bring pleasure....
The classic training, which many claim deals with the fundamentals and common denominators in creating art, often forces upon the young designer a system of sterile formula, or makes him so conscious of self expression that he ignores completely the help he can get from physical and natural law.
Charles Eames established the firm of Gray and Eames in St. Louis from 1930 to 1936. Because architectural commissions were sparse during the Depression, Charles Eames's work in the 1930s included a variety of projects ranging from furniture, ceramics, stained-glass windows, mosaics, and textiles to one of his most acclaimed commissions of the period. The John Phillip Meyer Residence in St. Louis (1935-1938).
In 1936, Charles Eames was appointed head of the Department of Experimental Design at the Cranbrook Academy in Michigan, a prestigious U.S. design center then under the direction of Eliel Saarinen. This fellowship proved to be one of the most important steps in Chalres Eames's career because it was here that he formed many of the ideas for his later work as well as a close association with fellow faculty member Eero Saarinen.
In 1945, Eames entered the Case House Study Program sponsored by Arts & Architecture magazine, then under the editorship of John Entenza. The experiment, in which a group of architects was commissioned to create inexpensive housing with standard industrial materials from a catalog, became the platform for Eames's international reputation as an architect. The program spanned 20 years and encompassed 36 projects, 22 of which were actually constructed. Charles Eames's own residence. Case House No. 8, was a series of economical living spaces and outdoor enclosures on a cliff site overlooking the ocean in Pacific Palisades, California.
architectural standards books
building types & styles books
drawing & modelling books
historic preservation books
interior design books
project planning & management books
study & teaching books
urban & land use planning books In 1940, Charles Eames and Saarinen established their interna-tional reputations by winning the two first prizes for their collaboration on three-dimensionally molded plywood chairs for the Organic Design in Home Furnishings Competition held at the Museum of Modern Art. New York, in 1940-1941.
During the decade of the 1940s. Charles Eames developed the seeds of ideas from his years at Cranbrook for work in a wide range of media. It was his "habit of approach," which Charles Eames believed could be applied to virtually any creative field, that enabled him to excel in divergent areas with equal proficiency. Employing this systems method, Charles Eames would first make a detailed analysis of the needs posed by a specific problem; then Charles Eames would determine the technology most appropriate to the solution. Charles Eames believed that designers "may so prepare themselves that they can approach any problem with the least possible loss of energy no matter how new to them its requirements or materials".
In 1941. after moving to California with his second wife and collaborator, Ray Kaiser, Charles Eames worked in the art department of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. an experience that led to later work in motion pictures. During that year, Charles Eames also continued experiments in molding plywood, which resulted in a notable series of furniture designs for Herman Miller. During the years 1942-1945. Charles Eames established a development laboratory in partnership with John Entenza. Charles Eames experimented in photography in 1944, developing a fast slide technique which Charles Eames later incorporated into film work and exhibitions.