Nestled in the Pacific Palisades neighborhood of Los Angeles stands the Eames House, also known as Case Study House No. 8. It is more than just a work of mid-century modern architecture; it’s an enduring testament to the design sensibilities and philosophies of Charles and Ray Eames, the husband-and-wife team who not only designed it but also called it home. Built in 1949, this iconic structure encapsulates the couple’s holistic approach to design and life.
Eames House Technical Information
- Architects: Ray and Charles Eames
- Location: 203 North Chautauqua Boulevard, Pacific Palisades, Los Angeles, USA
- Topics: Mid-Century Modern
- Area: 1,500 ft2 | 140 m2
- Project Year: 1945 – 1949
- Photographs: © Eames Office, See Captions
The role of the designer is that of a very good, thoughtful host anticipating the needs of his guests.
– Charles and Ray Eames1-2
Eames House Photographs
The Eames House: A Living Laboratory for Design Exploration
From its initial construction to its life today as a museum, the Eames House offers a rich tapestry of history, ingenuity, and practical elegance. Commissioned by Arts & Architecture magazine for their Case Study House program, this residence has endured as a beacon of what Charles and Ray stood for—efficiency, innovation, and the honest use of materials. As Charles once said, “Just as a good host tries to anticipate the needs of his guest, so a good architect or a designer or a city planner tries to anticipate the needs of those who will live in or use the thing being designed.”
The Eameses purchased 1.4 acres from Arts & Architecture owner John Entenza in 1945, but the journey to the final construction was rife with modifications and resource constraints. Initial designs by Charles Eames and Eero Saarinen, which envisioned a glass and steel box cantilevering dramatically over the property, were shelved. In part, due to material shortages in the post-war era, Charles and Ray turned inward, observing and soaking in the nuances of the site. The eventual design had the house sitting quietly in the land, harmonizing with the natural surroundings rather than imposing on it.
Two distinct boxes make up the residence—one serves as the living quarters and the other as a studio. The house and studio are separated by a concrete retaining wall that integrates seamlessly with the existing landscape. An 8-foot tall by 200-foot long concrete wall helps to anchor the site while also setting a dramatic backdrop for the architecture.
Both structures are predominantly characterized by their steel frame construction, filled with a variety of colored panels. The colored panels aren’t merely decorative; they are functional elements carefully calibrated to provide shifting patterns of light and shade throughout the day. The impact of light, so finely tuned in the design, showcases influences from Japanese architecture.
The Eames House doesn’t just make a statement from the outside; the interiors are equally compelling. The house is a melting pot of the Eameses’ diverse interests and design sensibilities—featuring Isamu Noguchi lamps, Thonet chairs, Native American baskets, and more. The living spaces are meticulously designed to serve multiple functions—a living room that transforms into a workspace, alcoves that turn into intimate conversation spots, and hallways lined with functional storage closets.
Living as Work, Work as Living
One of the most unique aspects of the Eames House is how it serves as a living laboratory for Charles and Ray’s iterative design process. As is evident from their film “Powers of Ten” or the constant evolution of their iconic furniture, the couple believed in refining, adjusting, and perfecting. The house was no different—it was a perpetual project, an embodiment of their philosophy of “life in work and work in life.”
For Charles and Ray, details weren’t just details—they were the product. The panels, steel columns, and even the gold-leaf panel marking the entry door were not afterthoughts but an integral part of the architectural dialogue. The Eames House reflects this in its intricate interplay of textures, colors, and spaces that come together to create a harmonious whole.
The Eames House is notable for its De Stijl influences, seen in the sliding walls and windows that allow for versatility and openness. It stands as a successful adaptation of European modernist principles within an American context.
The Eames House is not just an architectural statement but a comprehensive worldview translated into physical form. From its thoughtful integration with the landscape to its detailed articulations, it represents the legacy of two of the 20th century’s most influential designers. Charles and Ray
Eames House Plans
Eames House Image Gallery
About Ray and Charles Eames
Charles and Ray Eames were a husband-and-wife design team who became icons of mid-20th-century modern design. Working primarily in the United States, they gained prominence for their contributions across multiple disciplines, including architecture, furniture design, industrial design, film, and exhibitions. Perhaps best known for their innovative furniture pieces, like the Eames Lounge Chair and Molded Plastic Chairs, they also left a lasting impact on architecture, most notably with the Eames House, also known as Case Study House No. 8. Their work is characterized by a playful yet disciplined approach, with a focus on functional design, innovative use of materials, and the importance of user experience.
Notes & Additional Credits
- While the quote is not specifically about the Eames House, it reflects the philosophy the Eameses applied to their design work, including their home. The Eames House is a manifestation of their belief in the “guest-host relationship,” where every design decision is made with the user’s experience in mind.
- Charles & Ray Eames: 1907-1978, 1912-1988: Pioneers of Mid-century Modernism by Gloria Koenig