Charles Ormond Eames : architect biography

famous architect : Charles Ormond Eames [page1] [page2]

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Charles Ormond Eames architect
Charles Ormond Eames architect
Charles Ormond Eames architect
Charles Ormond Eames architect
Charles Ormond Eames architect
Charles Ormond Eames architect

Charles Ormond Eames

This elegant version of an industrial-style building was created through techniques typically associated with factory construction. With its exposed steel frame and abstract facade formed by a modulating gridwork of steel mullions, Charles Eames's house is considered the precursor of today's high-tech buildings. According to Charles Jencks:

The Eames' steel-framed house comes very much in that West Coast tradition of Neutra and Soriano and is followed by the later essays in transcendental steel of Koenig and Ellwood. All of these Westerners exploit the potential that Mies had discovered earlier: open planning, precise detailing, accuracy, neatness and the light quality of steel and glass. A continuous perfection which is possible only with a sophisticated technology that can avoid crudeness.

Unlike Mies, however, Charles Eames neither attempted to create universal space nor allowed the design to be controlled by the demands of production.Rather than considering industrial imagery as an end in itself, Charles Eames created a gentle, residential aesthetic from industrial materials. Utilizing energy-saving principles, the house was build quickly from a minimum amount of materials. Charles Eames first tried to exploit steel by sharping an elaborate structure, but finaly decided to enclose the largest volume of space possible with the same amount of steel. Taking full advantage of a southwest-facing slope, the partialy subterranean structure is cooled by natural cross-ventilation and shade provided by a deep roof overhang and groove of eucalyptus trees. Mechanical and electrical systems are used sparingly.

The interior exemplifies the Charles Eames aesthetic, in which the house serves as a variable container for everyday object of living. Charles Eames casually arranged cheerful bric-a-brac as opposed to objects of high art to form a montage of images that expressed reverence for the integrity of each object. The style spread from Charles Eames's living room to designer displays around the world. As a social idea, the house is a base for two creative adults: a pair of buildings that provides enough privacy for each person to accommodate a lifestyle in which home and work are unified. It is believed that Charles Eames's admiration for Frank Lloyd Wright is reflected in his respect for nature, attraction to rich interior decoration, Oriental design overtones, and open conception of space and form.

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Charles + Ray Eames / Design Museum Collection

Equally important to Charles Eames's international reputation was a series of chairs produced over a period of 30 years. The designs range from shells of formed fiber glass and plywood on light metal supports to compositions in down and leather, depending on the production technique and material most appropriate to the needs of the project. His attitudes toward furniture are perhaps best summarized in The Lounge Chair and Ottoman (1956), which continued the tradition of the luxurious chair established in 1929 by Mies's Barcelona and Le Corbusier's Siege Grand Con-fort. It emphasizes comfort, enjoyment of the luxury of materials, and appreciation for objects well crafted. But unlike the Barcelona chair, which defines space by establishing a polarity between objects and people, The Lounge Chair on its swivel and pedestal allows the user to control its angle and position in space relative to other objects and people.

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Although Charles Eames continued work on architectural projects through the min-1960s, the emphasis of his design studio shifted to audience-oriented work from the late 1940s until his death. Among the most notable public installations were exhibit “For Modern Living” at the Detroit Institute of Arts, Detroit, Michigan (1949); the “Good Design Show” at the Museum of Modern Art, New York (1950); and several installations for the Herman Miller Showroom through the 1960s. The studio also produced over 50 films on a variety of subjects, ranging from history and political figures to craftwork and computers. Among the well-known titles are “Traveling Boy” (1950), “Fabulous Fifties” (1960), and “IBM at the Fair (1965). Charles Eames devoted much of his design skill in his last years to a series of traveling exhibitions including the American National Exhibition, Moscow (1959), The World of Franklin and Jefferson exhibition (1975), and A Computer Perspective, IBM exhibition center (1971).

Although Charles Eames did not have a formal architectural degree, his work had a profound effect on design, both in the United States and abroad. Perhaps most important to hist style was an ability to temper superlative technical knowhow in exploiting the highest available technology with a touch of whimsy and a discerning eye for color and form.


1 p Smithson, "Just A Few Chairs And A House: An Essay ' On The Eames-aesthetic," Architectural Design, 443 (Sept. 1966).

2 C Eames, "Design Today," California Arts And Architecture 58 (9), 18 (1941).

3. Ibid., p. 18.

4. Ibid., p. 18.

5. C. Jencks, Modern Movements in Architecture, Anchor Press, New York, 1973, pp. 214-215.

General References

C. Eames, "General Motors Revisited," Architectural Forum 134, 21-28 (1971).

P. Goldberger, "The Keen, Loving Eye of Charles Eames," Art News 77 (8), 135-136.

E. Kaufmann, Jr., "Chairs, Eames and Chests," Art News 49 (3), 36-40 (1950).

E. McCoy, "Charles and Ray Eames," Design Quarterly 98-99, 21-29 (1975).

E. Noyes, "Charles Eames," Arts and Architecture 63, 26-44 (1946).

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