The Kwikset House

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1951

In 1951, the Kwikset Lock Company of Anaheim, California, commissioned the Eames Office to design a low-cost, prefabricated house. Charles and Ray planned to construct it with off-the-shelf parts and hardware. This would allow Kwikset to manufacture the house in quantity and sell it as a kit; this stemmed from the Case Study Program’s idea of normalizing industrial, postwar materials in residential building. The hope was to allow postwar families and indiviuals to live in a “modern” way for an afforable price tag with a reduction in materials and time spent building.

The Eameses proposed a one-story house, modular in plan, with a curved plywood roof and exposed beams. The interior had an open plan with a large living room that opened out onto a garden.

The office constructed a one-inch scale model of the house furnished with miniature Eames furniture. Although Charles and Ray’s plan met the company’s conditions, a prototype house was never built. As soon as the Eames Office was ready to begin manufacturing, the Kwikset Company changed hands and subsequently went bankrupt.

A few years later, however, Charles and Ray designed the De Pree House in the same spirit of economical construction as the project for Kwikset.