Admired for their majestic size and gentle nature, elephants are part of our everyday experience as animated characters, storybook figures, and children’s toys.
Charles and Ray had a soft spot for elephants. In 1945, while they experimented with molding plywood into compound curves, they designed a group of animals for children to sit on. Two prototypes of the elephant were developed and displayed at the Museum of Modern Art in 1946; however, during the Eameses’ lifetimes, the elephant never went into mass production.
Vitra changed that when, in 2007, they honored Charles’s centennial by producing 2,000 plywood elephants—1,000 red and 1,000 natural. Shortly thereafter, Vitra released the elephant in durable plastic for children to enjoy.
Whether used as a toy or for decoration (inside or out), this friendly-looking animal, with its distinctive, over-sized ears, brings cheer to kids and adults alike.
The Plastic Elephant is available for purchase at the Eames Shop.
You can also see the design featured below in Into the Wilds. Directed and produced by Charles’s grandson, Eames Demetrios, this film, along with a number of his other playful shorts, stars the lovable toy elephant.