Charles Eames design process diagram

AW_CEn007

1969

The Design Diagram gives important insight into how Charles and Ray viewed the design process. Learn more by reading the excerpt below from Eames Demetrios’s book, An Eames Primer.

“What the [design] diagram shows is the overlap of concerns among three different entities. The first represents the area of interest to the designer. The second represents the areas of interest to the client. The third is the area of interest to society as a whole. Charles and Ray’s point is that it is in the area where all three overlap that the designer can work with enthusiasm and conviction . . .

“One of the important things to note in looking at the diagram is that in the Eames worldview the client is not the enemy, but a legitimate participant in defining the playing field. Oftentimes designers speak of the client as someone whom work is done in spite of. While Charles and Ray certainly spent time helping clients see the area of overlap, they always saw them as an essential, positive part of the equation.  Recall Charles’s letter to Ray in 1941 about possible films: ‘if it’s given the right slant it would have punch for the producer, public and us.’  All three were important from the beginning of their partnership. In a related vein, Charles once said that the most important thing an architect can do is teach a client how to spend their own money. Perhaps that is why ‘he got an enormous amount of respect from his clients,’ as Jeannine Oppewall said.

“In addition to that, the Office did something else. It nurtured ideas (sometimes quite a bit) on its own. The real benefit was related directly to the design diagram. By studying something on their own, the Eames Office could bring an idea to the point where a client could see that an idea belonged in their area of the design diagram and, presumably, in the area of overlap as well.”

The Design Diagram is available for purchase here.