Play Parade. An Eames Exhibition for Kids

Posted September 1, 2017

September 9, 2017 – February 25, 2018: Visit Vitra Design Museum for an Eames exhibition intended for kids and kids at heart, and be among the first to play with the Eames Office’s latest reintroduction of The Toy.

“Take your pleasure seriously!” Charles Eames used to say. This Eames motto forms the starting point for Vitra Design Museum’s new exhibition, Play Parade, the first of four exhibition in conjunction with An Eames Celebration.

This is the first exhibition that Vitra Design Museum has created specifically for children and families. In a spatial installation full of fascinating shapes and rich colors, visitors can discover and experience Charles and Ray Eames’s understanding of toys as a precursor to great ideas.

Play Parade is a hybrid world of fantasy and museum: the installation shows how the the couple gave expression to their endless supply of ideas by designing, collecting, and displaying all kinds of objects. Colorfully patterned paper kites and graphically striking masks from the Eameses’ toy collection serve as a backdrop for their own toy designs from the 1950s. Original artifacts can be viewed in showcases, while visitors are invited to touch and play with replicas and re-editions. Early Eames films such as Tops and Parade–which feature a choreography of spinning tops or a series of dolls and toy vehicles parading in front of painted scenery–set the exhibited objects in motion.

The works on display include The Toy, a modular construction set consisting of wooden dowels and colorful panels that can be used to make model airplanes, towers, tents, and more. Visitors can appear in a circus ring wearing Eames animal masks, or erect large structures with the famous House of Cards. Since the Eameses felt that toys were of equal value and deserved the same attention as everyday furnishings and other utilitarian products, their toy designs were intended not only for children, but also for adults who shared the couple’s enthusiasm for play.

The exhibition demonstrates how seriously Charles and Ray Eames regarded their work and experiments with toys, and how play can be an important source of creativity–as they proved with their own designs. The scope of this show extends beyond the Eameses’ concepts for toys from the 1950s. Objects from their personal collection of toys reach further back in history, exposing today’s children to the cultural history of play and allowing them to test the timeless quality of these toys.

After nearly 60 years, the Eames Office is excited to reintroduce The Eames Toy in fall 2017. Those who visit Play Parade will be among the first to experience this classic design. Request to join our mailing list at, or follow us on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter.



Play Parade. An Eames Exhibition for Kids
Vitra Design Museum Gallery
September 9, 2017 – February 25, 2018

Opening for children and families
September 8, 2017, 4:00 – 6:00 pm
The exhibition opening is a free event for the entire family. Visitors can discover toys by the Eameses, who are regarded by many as the most important furniture designers of the twentieth century, and use them to create their own designs.

Family Day: Serious Play
October 1, 2017, 12:00 – 5:00 pm
On Family Day, visitors of all ages have the opportunity to explore the work of Charles and Ray Eames through play and games–with hands-on activities, a treasure hunt, special guided tours of the Vitra Campus, a kite-flying extravaganza, and much more.

Find out about other exhibitions in connection with An Eames Celebration here.