Tools and Eames Designs

Posted October 9, 2013

Research into all aspects of the history of Eames designs is on-going. My latest discovery relates to the  thinking behind the Eames “x-base.”


On many occasions, Charles Eames remarked that the design of anything should be approached with the same attitude as one would approach the design of a tool. When designing a tool, one asks, “What must it do,” and so it goes with any design problem.
Both Charles and Ray prized tools for their honest and straight forward appearance. Ray said that when they were newly weds in Los Angeles she would sometimes look wistfully through the windows of Sears at all of the splendid Craftsmen tools.
Here I can share that in the development of the first four-legged base for the Eames shell chairs, they actually looked at how one specific tool was made.
In the narration for a film about chair development, Charles noted that they took the idea for the x-base, as to how the parts were joined, from the wheel wrench!
Photographer Grant Taylor and I worked many hours on the many photo shoots to capture the images you see in this Catalog of Eames designs.
One day, when we faced with a set of Eames side shells with their early “x-bases” I thought we could afford to get a little creative, and I brought in some tools from my own collection. I did this because I felt that Eames chairs and good old-fashioned tools go together, without realizing how close I was getting to the truth.