Chair Camp

Chair Camp: Where 1,000 students, ranging from third through twelfth grade, come together to design their own miniature chairs and learn valuable Eamesian principles.

Build a Tiny Chair

Carla Hartman, Director of Education at the Eames Office, first developed Chair Camp in 1998 when she worked as an educator at the Denver Art Museum. For several years, the camp was structured as an all-day, week-long class for 9-12 year-olds. Since then, it has taken many forms and has been presented to a variety of audiences in cities and countries across the globe. One constant has been the presentation of Charles and Ray’s oeuvre as well as their principles for work and play as a framework for discussion about chair designs.

“Chairs are intriguing because they are so similar to us.  They are anthropomorphic; in other words, they have the same body parts as we do.  Most have a seat, back and legs; some have arms; others can have feet and even a few, knees.  Very, very few have ears.”

Carla Hartman

Until 2012, camp capacity was 20-25 people, but that limitation changed in 2011 after an introductory meeting between the Eames family and the Grand Rapids ArtPrize team. When Hartman was asked “How many kids do you really want at Chair Camp?” she replied, “1,000.”

In 2012, the ArtPrize staff helped to make this dream a reality. One thousand kids (from third through twelfth grade) gathered together in the Marriott Ballroom in Grand Rapids to create their own chairs. Since that success, smaller groups of students divided into three age groups have convened at the Grand Rapids Public Museum to make chairs. Two more groups were added in 2014: one for families and one for university students.