Eames, Charles

When he died at the age of 71 in 1978 in Saint-Louis - his hometown - Charles Eames embodies one of the major figures of twentieth-century design that he was able to develop into mass production. Architect and designer (1907-1978), he was head of the design department at the Cranbrook Academy of Art. In 1940, with Eero Saarinen, he won the first prize in the New York Museum of Modern Art's "Organic Design in Home Furnishings" competition, presenting an innovative molded plywood seat: the shaping of the plywood is done in two plans, the upper part of the seat and the seat are in one piece, forming a shell. This highly technical project marks a new orientation of the furniture, but not yet the production of series.

Charles Eames and his wife Ray travel to Los Angeles, where they continue their technical research on plywood molding. An order from the US Navy encourages them in their projects: the development of splints and stretchers molded plywood produced by the Evans Products Company of Los Angeles in 1943. Between 1942 and 1946, they decline a series of seats molded plywood , like the DCW and DCM chairs in 1946 for the Evans Products Company. The furniture company Herman Miller engages Charles Eames as a design consultant in 1946, then commits to an exclusive contract. The same year, an exhibition is dedicated to him at the Museum of Modern Art in New York. Charles Eames is more concerned with the technical aspect of design and material research than with the aesthetic aspect. He offers a seat with a fiberglass reinforced polyester shell, with which he won the second prize in the 1948 Low Cost Furniture competition in the seating category, and a welded wire armchair, the Wire. Flesh in 1951.

His partnership with Herman Miller continues with the Aluminum Group in 1958, a collection of great finesse. Their Lounge Chair has been sold to more than 6 million since its inception in 1956, while the Aluminum Chair (which initiated the Aluminum Group in 1958) and the Swivel Chair with its 1969 Soft Pad Footrest. continues to appeal to design enthusiasts.

Some dates :

  • 1938-1940: Charles Eames teaches at the Cranbrook Academy of Art and works with Eero Saarinen
  • 1942: Development of molded plywood medical gutters for the United States Navy.
  • 1946: MOMA exhibition "New Furniture Design by Charles Eames"
  • 1950: Eames Storage Units (ESU)

Showroom and graphic editions for Herman Miller

  • 1951: Wire Chair
  • 1954: Compact Sofa
  • 1964: IBM Pavilion Exhibition
  • 1968: Billy Wilder armchair


  • A. BONY, Design , Recognize and Understand, Larousse, 2008
  • G. KOENIG, Eames , Taschen, 2005