Some Thoughts About Eames

Posted July 12, 1961



In the special 1961 Zodiac annual, which was devoted to “America” that year, there’s an article by Janet Fiske McCullough of interest to serious mid-century design scholars.

Here is an excerpt from an article titled Some thoughts about Eames (pages 123-125):

“Last year Charles and Ray Eames were jointly named as the first winners of the now-annual Kaufmann International Design Award. From among all the world’s practicing designers, they were singled out for an honor that carries with it the rather convincing honorarium of $20,000, by a 5-man international jury (Sir Herbert Read, George Nelson, Eric Herlow, Dino Olivetti, and Arthur N. BecVar) that cited the Eames (sic) for an “uncompromising directness in the treatment of materials” and for “expressing an inherent logic of structure and form that takes into account the necessary condition that intelligence must function in the framework of modern industry and technology. “Mr. and Mrs. Eames,” the award reminds us, is the proper title for a design team that has functioned since 1940, has functioned so smoothly behind the scenes that few people, if any, know who contributes what to which product. Since the privacy of this arrangement is something they obviously prefer and enjoy, it is not only sensible to respect it but senseless to question it: any true collaboration is greater than the sum of its partners. Nevertheless, since they work as one and create as one, we shall discuss them in the singular—focusing on Charles Eames as the public figure of the team and its spokesman…:”

This issue of Zodiac is a wonderful resource for mid-century design scholars. The images above and description below are courtesy of the online book store, The images include the cover, featuring the amazing 1958 Jasper Johns Three Flags painting, as well as the inside image spread. 

Zodiac 8

Bruno Alfieri and Pier Carlo Santini, Editors: Zodiac 8 / “America” / International Magazine of Contemporary Architecture. Milan: Edizione Di Communita, 1961. Original Edition (International Magazine of Contemporary Architecture is issued twice yearly under the auspices of the Ing. C. Olivetti & Co.). Text in Italian, English and French. A very good softcover book in stiff, printed french-folded wrappers: light wear overall, with spine tips lightly bruised. Interior unmarked and very clean. Out-of-print and uncommon. Front cover image Three Flags by Jasper Johns and rear cover image by Ben Shahn.

8.5 x 10.5 softcover book with 200 pages of modern architecture, beautifully designed and printed in Italy on a variety of paper stocks. Illustrated with numerous black & white photographs and drawings. Contains numerous trade advertisements, some of which are illustrated in color.

The “America” issue of Zodiac offered an amazingly prescient overview of contemporary architecture in the United States, circa 1961, which can be seen below.



Architettura con molti futuri by Guido Piovene

The Rise to World Prominence of American Architecture by Henry Russell Hitchcock

The Heritage of Wright by Vincent J. Scully

Louis Kahn by Enzo Fratelli

The Place of Mies in American Architecture by William Jordy

Walter Gropius Today by Gillo Dorfles

The Architect, Citizen and Professional by Walter Gropius

Marcel Breuer in America by Paolo Portoghesi

Neutra in California by Esther McCoy. 6 pages and 12 b/w images by Julius Shulman.

The Current Work of Philip Johnson by Henry Russell Hitchcock. Includes the Glass House in New Canaan, CT.

Eero Saarinen: Recent Work by Gillo Flores

Architecture and Urban Development by Victor Gruen

The World of George Nelson by Enzo Fratelli. 28 pages with 64 illustrations in color and b/w showing different facets of George Nelson’s work, including the Fairchild house, the Herman Miller factory, the Spaeth house, the Kirkpatrick house, furniture for Herman Miller Co. and trademarks.

Some Thoughts About Eames by Jane McCullough

Some Tendencies in American Architecture: Yamasaki and Stone by Giulia Veronesi

A Humanist Architecture for America & Its Relation to the Traditional Architecture of Japan by Minoru Yamasaki

A Question for George Nelson and Paul Rudolph

Paul Rudolph by Giulia Veronesi

Architectural Education in U.S.A. by Paul Rudolph

Young Architects in the United States by Esther McCoy

Looking Forward by Henry Russell Hitchcock

Resumes en francais/Riassunti in italiano

Includes advertising for Herman Miller, Olivetti, Cassina, etc.