Charles Ormond Eames Jr
@Miscellaneous, Family and Family
Charles Ormond Eames Jr
Charles Eames born at
In 1929, he married Catherine Woermann whom he had met at the Washington University. They had a daughter Lucia Jenkins a year later. The couple divorced in 1941 after his involvement with his colleague.
In 1941, he married Ray Kaiser whom he had met at Cranbrook Academy of Art in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan. They married at a friend’s place in Chicago and soon moved to Los Angeles to mark the beginning of their married life and career.
After Charles’s death, Ray completed their unfinished projects and worked on a book describing their work. She also transferred many of their objects to the Library of Congress.
He was born to Charles Sr., a railway security officer and his wife Adele and was the younger of his parent’s two children. He attended Yeatman high school and developed an interest for architecture. He went on to work at the Laclede steel company where he learned about engineering, drawing and architecture.
He enrolled in Washington University at St. Louis on architecture scholarship. He, however, left the university after two years. Sources say that he was thrown out for his advocacy of Frank Lloyd Wright and his interest in modern architects. His dismissal is also attributed to the fact that he worked as an architect at Trueblood and Graf. As he could not devote enough time to both his studies and work, he decided to leave.
In 1930, he established his own architectural firm in St. Louis with partner Charles Gray and was later joined by a third partner, Walter Pauley. With his further progress, he received a fellowship to Cranbrook Academy of Art in Michigan, where he later became the head of design department.
He met Eero Sarinen there with whom he designed prize-winning furniture for the museum of modern art’s ‘Organic Furniture Competition’ by molding plywood into intricate curves and designs. He also met Ray Kaiser who assisted him in his designing and later became his wife and business partner.
In 1941, he moved to California along with his wife Ray Kaiser Eames and continued his designing work by molding plywood. During the Second World War, they were commissioned by the Navy to produce molded plywood splints, stretchers and experimental glider shells.
In 1946, they started their own furniture label known as ‘Eameses’ molded plywood furniture. Their molded plywood chair was called ‘The chair of the century’ by an architectural critic Esther McCoy. The production was later taken by Herman Miller Inc. in the United States and they own it to this day.
They expanded their establishment and partnership by opening a branch in Europe as well, where a company called ‘Vitra International’ was given the manufacturing rights.
In 1949, Charles and Ray Eames designed and built their own home in Pacific Palisades, California as part of the ‘case study’ program sponsored by the ‘Arts and Architecture’ magazine. Called the Eames house, it was hand constructed using pre-fabricated steel parts meant for industrial construction and is considered as the most important post-war residences built anywhere in the world.
In 1950, he, along with his wife, produced a short film ‘Traveling Boy’ (1950) to document their interests. The film showcases the methodology involved in furniture production. They further released ‘Powers of 10’ in 1977. This film gives a dramatic demonstration of orders of magnitude by visually zooming away from the Earth to the edge of the universe, and then microscopically zooming into the nucleus of a carbon atom.
In 1961, he came out with his first exhibition, ‘Mathematica: A world of numbers…and beyond’ which was sponsored by IBM. This exhibition was a landmark one in the field of science popularization exhibitions. Soon, it was followed by ‘A computer perspective: Background to the computer age’ (1971), and ‘The world of Franklin and Jefferson’ (1975-77).