The 15 Things Charles and Ray Eames Teach Us

by Dan on January 14, 2009

Take your pleasure seriously.

The 15 Things Charles and Ray Eames Teach Us is an excerpt from an essay by Keith Yamashita:

1. Keep good company
2. Notice the ordinary
3. Preserve the ephemeral
4. Design not for the elite but for the masses
5. Explain it to a child
6. Get lost in the content
7. Get to the heart of the matter
8. Never tolerate “O.K. anything.”
9. Remember your responsibility as a storyteller
10. Zoom out
11. Switch
12. Prototype it
13. Pun
14. Make design your life… and life, your design.
15. Leave something behind.

{ 11 comments… read them below or add one }

1 DARE January 14, 2009 at 3:06 pm


Charles and Ray Eames practiced design at its most virtuous and its most expansive.

From the 1940s to the 1970s, their furniture, toys, buildings, films, exhibitions, and books aimed to improve society–not only functionally, but culturally and intellectually as well. The Eameses’ wholehearted belief that design could improve people’s lives remains their greatest legacy. Even more remarkable is how they achieved their seriousness of purpose with elegance, wit, and beauty.

This exhibition brings together the sources of the Eameses’ inspiration, the personal documents of their lives, and the finished products of their talent. In order to understand the processes that led to the Eameses’ achievements, this exhibition is organized around challenges posed to them by clients or–as with most creative geniuses–posed by themselves:

* how to produce affordable, yet high-quality furniture
* how to build economical, yet well-designed space for living and working
* how to help people see beauty in the everyday
* how to help Americans and other cultures understand each other
* how to make fundamental scientific principles accessible to lay people.

The Eameses’ vast body of work illustrates their solutions to these challenges. They also demonstrate the ambition and scope of the Eameses’ agenda–from the utilitarian chair to complex issues of human perception, understanding, and knowledge.


2 Roger C. Parker June 15, 2009 at 1:21 am

Dear Dan:
This list is a great discovery. Thanks for passing it along.


3 Dan Sellars October 19, 2013 at 4:57 pm

Your most welcome Roger. Cheers for stopping-by back in 2009.


4 tom kristopeit June 23, 2009 at 12:01 pm

I spend my working days in two Eames chairs. One is the aeron chair at my desk, the other is the leather padded, molded plywood chair with ottoman, in which i pray every morning and read every night. what a life. thanks for the reminders, dan. tom kristopeit


5 elmas August 30, 2009 at 7:27 am

affordable? i love their furniture , but they’re certainly not affordable.


6 Dan Sellars October 19, 2013 at 4:58 pm

It’s all relative. Shopping for design classics by definition means your likely consider a whole gamut of design collectibles, from a classic watch to a car. In that sense Eames is affordable. But I understand your point completely.


7 David C. June 20, 2012 at 1:42 pm

I don’t know a lot about Eames furniture, but I do like the list above.


8 AnnaLynn Fox October 18, 2013 at 8:06 pm

Charles and Ray Eames made a great impression on furniture design. I’ve heard a few references of them in movies. Kind of cool to see. Glad they’ve inspired our creative juices.


9 Dan Sellars October 19, 2013 at 5:00 pm

Like they say, it all starts with keeping good company. Then you begin to notice the ordinary, and one hopes, preserve the ephemeral.


10 Annette October 21, 2013 at 3:58 pm

Incredible to think how much of an impression people can make on history. Glad to see it was a positive one… with a creative stride.


11 jon terns October 24, 2013 at 9:25 pm

Those are some serious words to live by. Keeping good company is important no matter what your life has in store for you, it can always help you get by.


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