Iconic Spaces: The Eames House

The Eames House | Photo Credit: Matthew Tait

The Eames House | Photo Credit: Matthew Tait

Originally known as Case Study House #8, The Eames House was initially created as one of a series of homes in a 1945 architectural competition. The contest, The Case Study House Program, was started by John Entenza, who at the time was the publisher of the popular Arts & Architecture magazine.

Spread from Arts & Architecture, September 1945

Spread from Arts & Architecture, September 1945

His ultimate goal was for architects to create beautiful homes for modern life using only “off-the-shelf” materials that could be ordered directly through steel fabricator catalogs.

The design for the Eames House started out as a collaboration between Charles Eames and Eero Saarinen. Their entry’s main architectural feature was a raised steel and glass box that cantilevered over the front lawn to give residents an ocean view, and they aptly named it The Bridge House.

The Bridge House | Sketches by Charles Eames and Eero Saarinen

The Bridge House | Sketches by Charles Eames and Eero Saarinen

However, due to WWII, it took a full three years for the materials to arrive. By that time, both Charles and Ray Eames had grown attached to the site originally planned for the Bridge House, and wanted the home to have little to no impact on the land surrounding it.

And so, Charles and Ray took the project on together and reformatted the home to suit this change using the same materials. In doing so, they changed the name to The Eames House.

Eames House Blueprints | By Charles Eames

Eames House Blueprints | By Charles Eames

Since part of the competition was allowing the architects to choose their client for this project, Charles and Ray fittingly suggested that their house be for a married couple working in design and whose grown children were no longer around.

The Eames House | Photo Credit: Leslie Schwartz and Joshua White

The Eames House | Photo Credit: Leslie Schwartz and Joshua White

Their final design was of two separate steel and glass structures with a small courtyard in between – a living space and a work space. This new design ended up being considered the most successful home in the competition both in terms of a comfortable living space and an architectural marvel. Charles and Ray moved into the Eames House on Christmas Eve, 1949, and both lived there for the rest of their lives.

Eames House Living Space | Photo Credit: Leslie Schwartz and Joshua White

Eames House Living Space | Photo Credit: Leslie Schwartz and Joshua White

Eames House Living Space | Photo Credit: Leslie Schwartz and Joshua White

Eames House Living Space | Photo Credit: Leslie Schwartz and Joshua White

In 2004, years after both Eameses had passed away, The Eames Foundation was created in order to preserve and protect The Eames House as well as the legacy of Charles and Ray Eames. Today, the house is largely untouched and the studio is used gently as a workspace by The Eames Foundation. In 2006, the building was designated a National Historic Landmark.

The Eames House Work Space | Photo Credit: Leslie Schwartz and Joshua White

The Eames House Work Space | Photo Credit: Leslie Schwartz and Joshua White

Today, anyone can visit The Eames House. The grounds and exterior of the home are free for individuals to go to, and it’s also possible to book a tour with a member of the staff at The Eames Foundation of the interior.

The oceanfront view in 2019 that The Bridge House was originally designed to showcase | Photo Credit: Matthew Tait

The oceanfront view in 2019 that The Bridge House was originally designed to showcase | Photo Credit: Matthew Tait

The Eames House Exterior Work Space | Photo Credit: Matthew Tait

The Eames House Exterior Work Space | Photo Credit: Matthew Tait

Just about a year ago, Matt and I had the chance to visit The Eames House, and it was such an inspiring trip. We highly recommend checking it out if you’re near Los Angeles!

Have you been? We’d love to hear about your time there – let us know in the comments.

Thanks for reading!
Audrey / Co-Founder

Audrey Elkus

Co-founder of TAIT Design Co.