Solar Do-Nothing Machine

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1957 – 1958

The Eameses designed the Solar Do-Nothing Machine in 1957. True to their belief that toys are not as innocent as they appear, the machine represents one of the first uses of solar power to produce electricity.

Charles and Ray made this design after the agency Ketchum, MacCleod and Grove asked them to create a toy as part of an advertising campaign for the Aluminum Company of America (or Alcoa).

The Eames Office developed more than one scheme for the problem, but after learning about photovoltaic cells, they came up with the Solar Do-Nothing Machine, which converted sunlight into electrical energy.

In the 1990s, Charles and Ray’s grandson, Eames Demetrios, discovered unedited footage of the wonderful machine. He cut it together and created the video below to share a bit of its flavor with future generations.