Charles and Ray Eames


Charles Ormond Eames and Ray Bernice Alexandra Kaiser met at the Cranbrook Academy of Art in Michigan, where they both studied design and architecture in the late 1930s. They eventually married and developed a joint career based on a commitment to devising "elegant solutions" to design problems.

Ray, a former painter, had assisted Charles and Eero Saarinen with a series of molded plywood chairs and tables — an experience that benefited the couple when they moved to Los Angeles in 1941. There they perfected their process of woodworking and made splints, litters, and aircraft parts for the armed forces during World War II.

In 1946 the Museum of Modern Art, New York, showcased Charles and Ray Eames's new furniture technology. This exhibition secured them a contract with the Herman Miller company in Michigan and initiated a 30-year relationship that produced many of the enduring furniture designs of the twentieth century.

In the late 1940s, the Eameses designed a house for the Case Study House Program sponsored by Arts and Architecture magazine. From the 1950s onward, they expanded their design and architectural practice to include the production of films and exhibitions — including Toccatta for Toy Trains (1957) and Mathematica (1961) — that used a variety of media to engage the imagination of the public.


From June 3, 2013, through early 2016, SFMOMA's building on Third Street in San Francisco will be temporarily closed for expansion construction. Selected artworks in our collection are included in a range of off-site exhibitions during this period. We regret that the remainder of the collection will not be available for study during this time.

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