Advice for Students by Charles Eames

Below is a typed version of Charles’s handwritten notes for a 1949 speech at U.C.L.A.

Charles Eames’s hand written notes on U.C.L.A. talks, University of California, Los Angeles, California, January 1949, Part II: Speeches and Writings series, Charles and Ray Eames Papers, Manuscript Division, Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.


Make a list of books

Develop a curiosity

                  look at things as though for the first time

think of things in relation to each other

                  always think of the next larger thing

Avoid the “pat” answer the formula

Avoid the preconceived idea

Study well objects made past recent and ancient

                  but never without the technological and social condition


Prepare yourself to search out the true need Physical


Prepare yourself to intelligently fill that need

the art is not something you apply to your work

the art is the way you do your work, a result of your attitude toward it

design is a full time job

it is the way you look at politics

                                                                                          funny papers

                                                                                          listen to music

                                                                                          raise children

Art is not a thing in a vacuum

                  No personal signature Economy of material Avoid the contrived

apprentice system and why it is impractical for them

no office wants to add another prima donna to its staff

no office is looking for a great creative genius

no office or at least very few

                  can train employees from scratch

there is always a need for anyone that can do a simple job


there are things you can do

to prepare yourself to be desirable

                                    orderly work habits

                                    ability to bring any job to a conclusion

                                    drawing facility


                                    a presentation that “reads” well

                                    willingness to do outside work and study on a problem…

Primitive spear is not the work of an individual nor is a good tool or utensil

To be a good designer you must be a good engineer in every sense: curious, inquisitive.

I am interested in course because I have great faith in the engineer, BUT to those who are serious (avoid putting on art hat) Boulder Dam all’s great not due engineer

By the nature of his problems the engineer has high percentage of known factors relatively little left to intuition

(the chemical engineer asking if he should call in Sulphur)

You can see photographs of these notes in Charles’s handwriting here.