Tuesday, 11 December 2012


The 28th and final Case Study House is completed: Janss Dev by Buff, Hensman and Associates; it is still intact. This year, John Entenza sells the magazine.

Charles Ormond Eames dies on August 21.

The first American woman goes to space this year.

John Entenza passes away.

Ray Eames dies 10 years to the day of Charles' death.

Lucia Eames, daughter of Charles, founds the Eames Foundation in 2004. They organize tours, maintenance, and restoration of the original building and site.


Charles puts together a short film made up of stills called House – After Five Years of Living.

The Interstate and Defence Highways Act passes. Also, Case Study House No. 17 (by Craig Ellwood, remodelled) is completed.

Case Study House No. 19 by Don Knorr and Elliott Associates was published although it was never built.

Case Study House No. 18 (Fields House by Craig Ellwood, remolded) and No. 21 (Bailey House by Pierre Koenig, remodelled) are finished this year.

Case Study House No. 22 (Stahl house by Pierre Koenig, intact), and No. 23 (Triad by Killingsworth, Brady, Smith and Associates, intact) are completed.

Case Study House No. 24 (Eichler Homes by A. Quincy Jones and Frederick C. Emmons, un-built) is published.

The 25th Case Study House (Frank House by Killingsworth, Brady, Smith and Associates, intact) and the 27th (Campbell and Wong, un-built) are printed. Also Andy Warhol exhibits his Campbell’s Soup Cans.

The Harrison House by David Thorne (or the 26th Case Study House) is complete. It              .                                                                         is still intact today.

The American Civil Rights Act passes this year. The Case Study Homes of 1964 are CSA 1 (Triad Apts by Alfred N. Beadle and Dailey Associates, intact) and CSA 2 (Whiteman Apts by Killingsworth-Brady and Associate, un-built).


The Case Study Program is introduced in Art and Architecture Magazine and the Second World War ends months later. Charles Eames signs up with Eero Saarinen as one of the many architects. Eero is needed because Charles is not a licensed architect; however the house is his design. By December the site is picked and the plans are published. The first Case Study House designed by J. R. Davidson is published, but never built. The US drops the atomic bomb, Germany surrenders, Hitler commits suicide and United Nations is founded. Furthermore, the first computer (ENIAC) was built.

The bikini was invented in 1946 and the designs for Case Study Homes 11 (by J.R. Davidson, demolished), 12 (by Whitney R. Smith, un-built) and 13 (by Richard Neutra, un-built) were completed.

Case Study homes 17 (by Rodney Walker, intact), 2 (by Sumner Spaulding and John Rex, intact), 10 (by Kemper Nomland, intact), and 16, 3 (by Rodney Walker, demolished) are constructed. Moreover, the Evans Production moves to Michigan and they move the Herman Miller Furniture Corporation. The Molded Plywood division is dissolved and becomes the Eames office. Also the Polaroid camera is invented and William Levitt builds the first successful suburb in Norfolk, VA., called Levittown.

Gandhi is assassinated, the “Big Bang Theory” is formulated and the Eames House parts Arrive. They were delayed due to shortages during the war. Case Study Homes 1 (1 by J. R. Davidson and Greta Davidson, collaboration, intact), 7 (by Thornton M. Abell, intact), 18 (West house by Rodney walker), 20 (Bass by Straub and Hensman, Saul Bass, collaboration, intact) are constructed.

This year NATO is established. The Eames House is redesigned in May by and is built by December and the Eames move in on Christmas Eve. Beside the Eames house, Case Study House No. 9 (Entenza House by Charles Eames and Eero Saarinen, remodelled) is completed. By now John Entenza is running into financial trouble and is having difficulty supporting Charles’s project.

John Entenza sues Charles Eames for a 50% share of royalties in molded plywood furniture by Evans Production since 1943. The Case Study House for 1905 (by Raphael Soriano) is finished, now remodelled.


The Case Study House for 1953 (No. 4 by Craig Ellwood, intact) is published and the first issue of Playboy Magazine is printed.


Alcoholics Anonymous is founded.

The Hoover Dam is completed.

The Golden Gate Bridge opens and the Hindenburg Disaster occurs.


Charles goes under the tutelage of Eliel Saarinen. At the same time John Entenza buys the California Art and Architecture magazine, then changes the name to Art and Architecture. People’s imaginations are also blooming as proven by the broadcast of War of The Worlds which ensues panic in New York.


After a long build-up, WW2 begins.


In France, cave paintings from the Stone Age are found and Charles meets Ray at Cranbrook Academy. Charles works at the academy and and at Eero Saarinen’s office while Ray attends classes at Cranbrook.

Ray and Charles marry in Chicago during June, and in July move to California. This year is also when the Manhattan Project begins.

Charles Eames and John Entenza nurture their friendship by coauthoring an architectural forum.

IM Pei and E H Du Hart house 1943 is published in Art and Architecture, called “Design for Post War Living” along with De Stijl’s work; inspiring the Eames and influencing the fa├žade of the Eames House.


A whole issue of Art and Architecture is dedicated to wood-moulded furniture.


Charles enters Washington University in St. Louis, however he will not leave with the architectural degree he pursues. This year the impending war is being set up by Hitler who publishes Mein Kampf.


Charles marries his fellow student Catherine Woermann. The honeymoon is in Mexico, in which Charles finds inspiration to design churches. He goes on to design several churches before he starts on the Eames House. This year the stock market crashes as well, and the first academy award is presented.

Gandhi starts the Salt march as a nonviolent protest, meanwhile Charles designs in St. Louis, Missouri and Arkansas.

This year air conditioning is invented; scientists split the atom.


Prohibition ends in the USA.


D. W. Griffith’s The Birth of a Nation is premiered.

The first self-service grocery store in the USA is established.

The United States of America enters WWI.

WWI ends, however the soldiers bring back the Spanish Flu and a pandemic ensues.

The Treaty of Versailles officially end WWI.

In the USA women are granted the right to vote this year. The 1st commercially radio broadcast is aired and prohibition in America begins.


Insulin is discovered, as is the Tomb of King Tut.


Talking movies are established; which Charles would have been very excited about.


The first Winter Olympics take place in Chamonix, France and gathered the world to focus on world love.



This year, Finland became the first country in Europe to give women the
right to vote and Einstein proposed the Special Theory of Relativity.


On June 17th Charles Ormond Eames was born. This was also the Year
that Picasso introduced cubism to the art world. Furthermore the rules of
war were established at the second World Peace Conference. 


Ford introduces the T-model vehicle.

On December 15 Ray Kaiser was born. That year, The NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Coloured People) is founded and the Titanic sinks.

Henry Ford creates the assembly to starting the mass production of commercially available products.
On July 28; WWI begins. The auto industry sees growth, and the first
traffic light is set up.

A Photoset of The Eames House

These photos show details of the Eames House as well as the surrounding flora of the patio.


Sources: http://www.gstatic.com/hostedimg/42a543633f7e6a81_large

Narrative and Purpose


The Cast Study House Program was a product of concerns regarding where domestic housing was headed after the war. Designs for Postwar Living was a competition held in 1943 when development of housing ceased due to the nation’s involvement in the  war. The production of the Model-T, Highway Defense Act, opening of the first grocery store and the emergence of the general assembly line all pointed at a future made for the masses versus the select. The competition was a response to the evident incoming influx of post war housing demand due to the advent of the middle class. Instead of continuing with competitions Entenza decided on a more concentrated program of constructing houses to provide opportunities for talented architects to imagine, design and construct the ideal home for a postwar middle class American family. The Eames House was one of the evangelized houses to promote the new modernist philosophy to the general public. The hopes was to not only captivate the public with the beauty of modernist houses but also with their functionality, affordability and liveability.

Sources: http://www.nps.gov/nhl/designations/samples/CA/Eames.pdf
Summarizes the Eames House in the context of domestic postwar housing including construction, location, and origins.


The Eames House was designed as part of the Arts and Architecture Magazine Case Study House series. In the original annoucement , the objective of the experiment was explained to be  an investigation into post-war housing and designs using the mass of material that had accumulated as a result of the wartime years. There were originally 8 houses purposed (it expanded to 34). The houses were going to be open for public tours and were going to explore the perfect living accommodations for each architect's respective lifestyles and would work on a specific living problem in California. Each architect was faced with a particular problem and their design had to fit within a specific budget. By no means were the Case Study Houses meant to be a stage for an individual "performance", and each house had to be capable of duplication. As well they must try to use prefabricated pieces from companies to build these homes. The first set of plans for the Eames House was published in the magazine in December 1945. Due to war shortage and the Eames deepening connection to the land, the design was rethought and the goals became: not destroy the meadow, maximize the volume with minimal material, to use the same parts (however they did order more steel beams). Also privacy and integrating the house into the landscape were valued.  After its construction its purpose resulted in affecting architecture around the world. It is an architectural icon now and is preserved, maintained and tours are available through The Eames Foundation, created by Charles’s daughter, Lucia Eames, in 2004.

The original announcement to the Case Study Project in Arts and Architecture Magazine

Size, Scale, and Construction

The Eames House in Pacific Palisades stands as an epitome of Midcentury California design, an expression of modernity and optimism that many still emulate today. Said Bill Stern, founder of the California Museum of Design: "The Eames House eschewed traditional materials like bricks and sticks, and used glass and steel in fresh ways to create a new understanding of how people can live."

The Eames House, completed in 1949, consists of two double-height buildings, one for residential living and the other for work. In all, the site encompasses roughly 1.4 acres and the two rectangular volumes accounting for roughly 3000 square feet. Each bay rises 17 feet and is framed by two rows of 4-inch H-columns set 20 feet apart. In the residential building, kitchen and dining areas are located in the lower story while more private spaces are on the second floor; which provides a view down at the double-height living area. Similarly, the studio portion of the Eames House also features an open plan. Like the residential area, the studio is divided into two stories with the upper floor overlooking a double-height space.

Charles and Ray Eames nurtured a design imagination that knew few boundaries, but if you were to look for its center — its heart — you might have found it in their living room. With its 17-foot-high ceiling, panels of glass opening to a grove of eucalyptus, and a vast range of objects collected over a lifetime, the Eames House living room is where two of the most influential designers of the 20th century spent hours talking, entertaining friends and playing with the collections that informed their work.
The Eames House living room, in all of its 17-foot-height glory
Night view of the studio and residential space

As a result of its modular design, the Eames House utilized economical and efficient materials. The foundation of the house was built from concrete, the roof from ashphalt, the frame from steel, and the walls from a mixture of materials including: glass, stucco, wood, asbestos, metal, and synthetics. On the rear elevation of the house, the vertical members of the frame were partially embedded in the 8-foot high concrete retaining wall while steel decking formed the underside of the roof; perpendicular to the frame. The Eames chose to paint the steel frame black to help delineate the rhythm of their structural composition as well as to separate the two volumes that make up the house. Between the two volumes lie an open patio space, acting as an open court while another outdoor space lies underneath the southern overhang of the residence. 



Monday, 10 December 2012

Charles and Ray on motorbike

Eames House

Eames House walkway

Eames House from the rear

Cost and Time

As noted in Colin Davies' Plans, Sections and Elevations: Key Houses of the 20th Century, there have been many myths revolving the Eames House in part due to its popularity. One of the myths is the idea that the house only took a few days to build. Another misleading myth is that the steel structure of the Eames House cost considerably less than a standard-timber frame house. But as Davies notes, "In architecture, it is ideas that count, not historical fact, and the Eames House remains an inspiration to any designer interested in the architectural potential of prefabrication."

Public/Private Spaces

Materials and their Placements

Exploded Axonometric of Eames House

This particular axonometric drawing shows all the separate building components of the Eames House, giving insight as to how the structure was composed and how each part fits together.

Download link to original size PDF


Some examples of furniture designed by Charles and Ray Eames:

LCW, circa 1946

Eames Plastic Side Chair is a contemporary version of the legendary Fibreglass Chair. It was produced in collaboration with Zenith Plastics for the Museum of Modern Art in New York's "Low-Cost Furniture Design Competition" and was the first industrially manufactured plastic chair, 1950.

A swivel chair version of the original Molded Plastic Chairs.

Advertising design for Wire Chairs with the Eameses' Bird Sculpture, circa 1952, photograph.

To see the full catalogue of Eames furniture visit: http://eamesdesigns.com/catalog-entry/la-chaise/


A Church by Charles Eames

The cornerstone of St Mary's Church in Helena, Arkansas states '1935' as the year of erection. This project predates Eames' time at Cranbrook and the meeting of his future wife Ray.The building is traditional in footprint with a transept and crossing. The steeple is of copper with an interesting net-like detailing.




Dean House, 1936


   Architect:     Eames & Walsh.
   Location:     Mason, Webster
                     Groves, Missouri.
   Date:           1936.
   An early design by Charles          

Eames in Vogue

1959 - Eames
August 15, 1959
Article by Alene Talmey.

"In spite of the whir of his mind and his life, Eames has a great inner quiet. A thin, tanned man, with brown gay eyes, deep laugh ruts, and a sudden stutter, he is a fascinated man. And clothes fascinate him, too. He likes to wear yellow-beiges, yellowish-greens, shirts of wonderful subtleties, roughly textured jackets, often with silver Navaho buttons which his wife, Ray, sews on a with special curved needle. These buttons are a partial clue to both the Eames. They see the beauty in small oddities that others may miss. They are in intensely practical. They work as partners, both designers, both filmmakers, both at ease in their life."
"Charles, however, has a monkey mind that leaps about, exploring. He has great capacity to see, to think out problems as though no one had ever pondered them before. . . Added to those qualities are his sense of structure and finally, his wide keyboard, beyond the eighty-eight notes, of enthusiasms."
Photograph of Charles and Ray Eames by John Bryson for Vogue
"Like Charles Eames, Ray Eames is tanned, fascinated. A small womanly woman -- like an Oscar Hammerstein lyric -- with pink lipstick, shining-eye makeup, a short nose, tiny earrings in her pierced ears, black velvet bows on her black slicked back hair, she is an executive disguised in dirndl skirts. Although she is not actually pretty, she has enormous attractiveness, partly because she looks full of pleasure, warm, enthusiastic -- a delighted happy woman with just a spark of temper. Whatever she touches becomes, without any deliberate thinking on her part, beautiful."
"At first sight the shop looks quite empty until the details of its clutter emerge.  Under pale-green fluorescent lights there are some shiny molded chairs, with nearby, tacked on a wall, a beaded band, on the floor, some white chrysanthemums in a beige basket.  From the rear comes the loud, niggling chatter of a table saw, the steady drum of a large spray gun, the gritty pinging of a sander, the grating, unsteady rhythm of a handsaw.  On a trestle table there might be some lovely toys, bought by Charles and Ray in India where they spent several months on a brilliant project for the Indian Government.  Holding up some God jewellery, Charles said:  "These are nothing, but they couldn't be better."
"The atmosphere of the shop is that of a relaxed kindergarten with no problem children.  The small staff, in truth, enjoy their working life, without being sloppily Pollyanna.  Some of that enjoyment comes from the freedom and discipline of the Eames' themselves.  Both are executives.  They give everyone credit for brains until the proof of stupidity is in.  They have the simple elegance of authority."

The Eames

Ray and Charles looking at photographs, EAMES: The Architect and The Painter

Charles Eames (June 17th 1907- August 21st 1978) and Ray Eames (December 15th, 1912 – August 21, 1988) gave shape and form to America's twentieth century by re-defining visual and conceptual design. They embodied the change of the era from the development of the West Coast to the shift from an age of manufacturing to the information age. In a time of overlapping objectives, the Eames became cultural ambassadors by partnering with the federal government and the major businesses of the era to modernize postwar America through design.

Meyer Residence, 1936


Architect:     Charles Eames and Robert Walsh
Project:        Meyer Residence
Location:      Deacon Drive, Huntleigh, Missouri
Date:           1936

This large, elaborate home is a Scandinavian modern / ecletic design by Charles Eames done at the time he was making the transition from being an architect in Saint Louis to studying & teaching at Cranbrook Academy in Michigan.


Photograph by Arnold Newman, 1975

Charles Ormond Eames was born on June 17th, 1907 in St. Louis and that. He began studying architecture at Washington University in St. Louis. Charles was greatly influenced by Finnish architect Eliel Saarinen whose son, Eero, became a partner and a close friend. In 1938, invited by Saarinen, Charles moved to Michigan with his wife and daughter, Lucia and Catherine Eames. There he attended the Cranbrook Academy of Art to further his studies in architecture and also became a teacher. Along with Eero Saarinen, Charles won New York’s Museum of Modern Art’s Organic Design in Home Furnishing competition. In 1941 Charles divorced Catherine and married Ray Kaiser. They moved to LA and in the late 1940s produced the “Eames House.” The Eames office lasted more than four decades and through that Charles continued to produce short films (Traveling Boy 1950, Powers of Ten 1977), design furniture (Eames Chaise 1968, Eames Lounge Chair 1946) and partnered with the government and major companies. Charles died of a heart attack on August 21st, 1978 during a consulting trip back in St. Louis.

Eero Saarinen

Charles and Eero

Charles and Eero working on their designs for the MoMA competition.


EAMES: The Architect and The Painter

A trailer from the 2011 documentary film Eames: The Architect And The Painter. It was produced and written by Jason Cohn, and co-produced by Bill Jersey. Narrated by James Franco.


Ray Eames on Chair photoshoot  http://www.metalocus.es/content/en/blog/15-things-charles-and-ray-eames-teach-us
Ray-Bernice Alexandra Kaiser Eames from Sacramento, California was a furniture designer, artist, architect, film director, toy builder and innovator of the twentieth century. Her talent and fascination with art and abstraction was evident from an early age. During her formative years Ray participated in the modern art movements and was among the first wave of North American abstract artists.Ray graduated from Bennett Women’s College in Millbrook, New York. On September 1940 she attended the Cranbrook Academy of Art in Michigan where she met Charles Eames. They were married a year later. Ray created textile designs, two of which were produced by Schiffer Prints, a company that produced textiles by Salvador Dali and Frank Lloyd Wright, covers for Arts and Architecture. Ray died on August 21, 1998, exactly a decade after Charles.




Transition From First Design to Final Design

The original design of the Eames House was a collaborative project by Charles Eames and Eero Saarinen. It called for a home located upon a cantilevered truss bridge and to display a sense of openness through its exposed steel frame. The Eames House was to float above the ground in an attempt to achieve the maximum span from the minimum of material. The original form did not arise from the program or the land it sat upon, but solely from its own structural order. However, not all of the structure was actually to be exposed as the floor and ceiling joists were concealed by plaster ceilings and soffits. As a result, the structure could then allow for the placement of interior partitions for the sake of acoustic privacy. Similar to the final design of the Eames House, the original design also called for the side walls to be layered in bands of horizontal steel windows.

The "Bridge House" design

Though, upon visiting an exhibition of Mies van der Rohe's work at the Museum of Modern Art in 1947, Charles Eames found inspiration for a new design that would preserve the meadow in the centre of the site and sit behind a row of eucalyptus trees. 

If the two designs are compared, the point regarding the lack of efficiency in the first design is in fact true. The concept of using minimal material in the 'bridge' design did not yield efficient results and in comparison, the final design contained 3000 square feet to the 2500 square feet in the original. The final design of the Eames House also used considerably less steel, and in that manner, proved to be much more efficient than the original, but lost much of its industrial styling in the process. However, what eventually arose was a more subtle, and site aware example of steel construction where Charles Eames adapted systems from steel commercial buildings into his own pragmatic view of residential design.

From The Details of Modern Architecture vol. 2

Steel Window Frames and Windows

The Eames House primarily used standard window sizes (i.e. 1 meter in width) and the house itself was primarily composed by bays. The house structure was made of 8 bays whereas the studio structure consisted of 5 bays; and in between them, the patio had a width of 4 bays.

View of the house, displaying the use of steel windows and frames

Model of the Eames House interior displaying the use of awning windows

Steel Roof Deck


A steel roof deck is a cold-formed corrugated steel sheet with a ribbed profile supported by steel joists that is used to support the concrete or insulating membrane of a roof. However, steel roof decks do not provide the weatherproofing layer of the roof. Steel roof decks are strong, lightweight, economical and easy to install making it appropriated to fit in with the rest of the Eames House.

Steel Channels


Steel channels are strips of steel cut in 'C' section and often used to create waler systems for retaining walls. Channels are useful for forming building components that are not exposed to high loads.