From 1925 to -28 Charles Eames studied architecture at Washington University, in St Louis, USA where after he continued as a freelance designer. During the end of the 1920’s and during the 1930’s Eames went on several trips to Europe and Mexico. In 1938 he started studying architecture and design at Cranbrook Academy in Michigan where he during 1939 and -40 also worked as a lecturer.
In 1940 and – 41 Eames won two prizes for design he made together with Finnish architect Eero Saarinen in the competition Organic Designs in Home Furnishings, arranged by the Museum of Modern Art in New York. During the same time Eames met artist Alexandra Bernice Kaiser, also known as Ray, with whom he married. Together Charles and Ray experimented in three-dimensional plywood molding and developed an industrialized production process.
Their first successful product was a plywood leg splint for the US Navy in 1942 and two years later the couple started designing and producing an extensive collection of plywood furniture, sculptures and other products that were exhibited in Design for Life at MoMA in 1944. In 1946 the Eames-couple began a collaboration with the Herman Miller Furniture Company in Michigan, that among others produced the CTW Coffee Table and the DCM Chair. Two years later they created an entry for MoMA’s international competition Low-Cost Furniture featuring chairs made of pressed sheet steel and sheet aluminum, that became forerunners of the Plastic armchair and Plastic side chair that were designed in 1950-53.
In 1949 the Eames office and home in Santa Monica, California was constructed, followed by the Entenza House, designed together with Eero Saarinen, in 1950. The same year Ray and Charles Eames curated the MoMA’s first Good Design exhibitions and released a collection of storage units and desks for the Herman Miller company.
From 1951 until 1953 the Eames’ developed furniture made of wire such as the Wire chair. In 1956 the Lounge Chair and the Ottoman were launched. During the 1950’s Ray and Charles Eames also worked with film and photography and in 1959 they participated in the American National Exhibition in Moscow with their multiscreen presentation Glimpses of the U.S.A.
In the 1960’s and 70’s the Eames’ made several exhibitions such as the IBM Pavilion for the New York World’s Fair together with Eero Saarinen (1964-65), the traveling exhibitions Copernicus (1972) and The World of Franklin and Jefferson (1976).
In 1971 Charles Eames made six Norton Lectures at Harvard on the subject of “Problems Relating to Visual Communication and the Visual Environment”. Charles Eames died in 1978 at the age of 71.
The production rights to the Eames furniture in Europe and in the Middle East are held by Vitra, while the rights in the rest of the world are held by Herman Miller.