Charles and Ray Eames, Image Courtesy Of SAF

SAF Lecture: The Philosophy of Charles + Ray Eames

The SAF Lecture Series hosted “Design vs Style,” a presentation by Eames Demetrios at the Ringling College of Art + Design in early October. Eames Demetrios, grandson of Charles and Ray Eames, provided in-depth and personal insight into the achievements of this iconic couple.

I arrived at the event with enough time to fully digest the Eames furniture collection in the lobby. Each piece is more than a classic, they still look fresh today. All are exceptionally clean with an honest use of materials that have influenced industrial design for decades. It was nice as a designer to see the stories and processes behind these legendary products. One slide during the lecture showed dozens of alternative chair designs, ranging from great to downright strange.

SAF Presentation: Lobby Display of Eames Chairs

Probably the best part of the lecture was the supply of universal design one-liners from the Eames team...

"It's all part of the learning process, don't sweat the detours."

"The Role of a designer is of a good host anticipating the needs of the guest."

"Know the difference between cost and worth."

"Learning should happen in the office, figure it out yourself."

"Design depends largely on constraints."

Another great quote addresses the next step of the process. "How do you design a chair? Design for yourself, but the universal part of yourself." This statement is one any designer could use to help start any project.

Eames Venn Diagram

I had only known the Eames furniture work so it was great to see their graphic and typography design process, architectural ideas and vast film library. It is their multidisciplinary nature that should appeal to all designers.  Specifically, there is an abstract Venn diagram sketch that shows the overlap between the interest of the designer, interest of the client and interest of society as a whole. The sketch is an icon of the Eames process and of design in general - a great visualization of the bulls-eye at which all designers should aim.

About the Author:
Erik Holmen is an award winning Senior Industrial Designer at ROBRADY design and a College for Creative Studies (CCS) Alumni.

-Lead Image courtesy of SAF (

SAF Presentation: Event Poster
Eames Lobby Display
Eames Lobby Display
Design vs Style and other Eames Philosophies Presentation
Design vs Style and other Eames Philosophies Presentation
Eames Presentation Lobby Crowd