Charles Eames
American designer



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Charles Eames
American designer
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Date of Birth

June 17, 1907

Place of Birth

St. Louis, Missouri, U.S.A.

Date of Death

August 21, 1978

Place of Death

St. Louis, Missouri, U.S.A.

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Works by Charles Eames

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Charles Eames was one half of dynamic American husband-and-wife design team Charles and Ray Eames.

Their best known design, the Eames Lounge Chair, was proclaimed the “chair of the century” by renowned critic Esther McCoy. Charles himself described it as having “the warm receptive look of a well-used first baseman’s mitt.” Mmmm, leathery.

Charles went to school at Washington University in St. Louis on a scholarship for architecture but was kicked out for being a major fan of Frank Lloyd Wright. Seems a bit extreme, but Charles took it in his stride and started his own architectural office instead. His second wife, Ray, studied in New York under Hans Hofmann (wink, wink) before meeting Charles at the Cranbrook Academy of Art. 

In the midst of the drama caused by Charles’ numerous affairs, the duo was commissioned by the U.S. Navy to produce splints, stretchers, and glider shells in their signature molded plywood. Back before we came to associate it with horrifically lit '80s living rooms, molded plywood was considered pretty much the best thing since sliced bread. They chose it in part for its affordability: “We wanted to make the best, for the most, for the least.” 

In 1949, Ray and Charles were sponsored by Arts & Architecture magazine to design and build a home in Pacific Palisades, California. They constructed it from pre-fabricated industrial steel parts in a matter of days and lived there together until their death. Cozy. The Eames' also found success in industrial design, graphic design, film, architecture, and fine art. Show-offs.

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Here is what Wikipedia says about Charles Eames

Charles Ormond Eames Jr. (June 17, 1907 – August 21, 1978) was an American designer, architect and film maker. In creative partnership with his spouse, Ray Kaiser Eames, he was responsible for groundbreaking contributions in the field of architecture, furniture design, industrial design, manufacturing and the photographic arts.



Charles was born in St. Louis to Charles Eames Sr., a railway security officer, and Marie Adele Celine Eames (née Lambert) on June 17, 1907. He had one elder sibling, a sister called Adele. Charles attended Yeatman High School and developed an early interest in architecture and photography.


Charles studied architecture at Washington University in St. Louis on an architecture scholarship. After two years of study, he left the university. Many sources claim that he was dismissed for his advocacy of Frank Lloyd Wright and his interest in modern architects. The university reportedly dropped him because of his "too modern" views. Other sources, less frequently cited, note that while a student, Charles Eames was also employed as an architect at the firm of Trueblood and Graf. The demands on his time from this employment and his classes led to sleep-deprivation and diminished performance at the university.

First marriage

While at Washington University, he met his first wife, Catherine Woermann, whom he married in 1929. A year later, they had a daughter, Lucia Dewey Eames. Charles and Catherine were married for over a decade and their divorce was finalized in early 1941.

Early architectural practice

In 1930, Charles began his own architectural practice in St. Louis with partner Charles Gray. They were later joined by a third partner, Walter Pauley.

  • Sweetzer House, St. Louis, Missouri, 1931
  • St. Mary's Church, Helena, Arkansas, 1934
  • St. Mary's Catholic Church, Paragould, Arkansas, 1935
  • Meyer House, Huntleigh, Missouri, 1936-1938
  • Dinsmoor House, St. Louis, Missouri, 1936
  • Dean House, St. Louis, Missouri, 1936

Charles Eames was greatly influenced by the Finnish architect Eliel Saarinen (whose son Eero, also an architect, would become a partner and friend).

Cranbrook and the beginning of furniture design

At the elder Saarinen's invitation, Charles moved in 1938 with his wife Catherine and daughter Lucia to Michigan to further study architecture at the Cranbrook Academy of Art. Charles quickly became an instructor and the head of the industrial design department. In order to apply for the Architecture and Urban Planning Program, Eames defined an area of focus—the St. Louis waterfront. Together with Eero Saarinen he designed prize-winning furniture for New York's Museum of Modern Art "Organic Design in Home Furnishings" competition. He met Ray Kaiser during this project; she was a student at Cranbrook and helped with graphic design. Eames and Saarinen's work displayed the new technique of wood molding (originally developed by Alvar Aalto), that Charles would further develop with Ray in many moulded plywood products, including: chairs and other furniture, and splints and stretchers for the US Navy during World War II.

In Popular Culture

The long running BBC Television Programme “Mastermind” features an iconic Black Chair which was designed by Charles Eames.

Ray Kaiser

In 1941, Charles and Catherine divorced, and soon after, he married his Cranbrook colleague Ray Kaiser. He relocated with her to Los Angeles, California during their honeymoon, where they worked and lived together until their deaths. Together, Charles and Ray Eames internationally became two of the most recognized and celebrated designers of the 20th century.

Check out the full Wikipedia article about Charles Eames.