Ray and Charles Eames: An Illustrated Design Process

Currently teaching two classes, Sketching and Rendering for Industrial Design, and Basic Design, at Rhode Island School of Design, Drawing Connections readers will notice some entries are geared towards students. This is one such entry.

When developing drawing and design skills, it can be tremendously helpful to nearly simultaneously practice drawing and observe drawing practice. Practice. Practice. Find designers who use drawing as a part of their design process. Study the drawings.

The objectives of this exercise include:
1. comparing multiple examples of drawing styles and techniques;
2. understanding the act of drawing is an individual expression, and that each person will have their own drawing voice or style, unique from other people;
3. discovering appropriate drawing materials and substrates for design drawings;
4. considering how drawing can play a significant role in the design process;
5. exploring the use of line, from informal and rapid sketch, to the detailed finished rendering; and
6. seeing how designers employ the visual language of drawing to generate ideas for designs, think through a design problem, communicate plans to other audiences, and document important details in the process.

It does not take long to find a variety of examples, illustrating a considerable, respectable range of drawing approaches, styles and techniques.

For the purposes of participating in the exercise, this article features the work of the married design team, Ray (1912–1988) and Charles (1907–1978) Eames, American designers, who accomplished many works of industrial design, furniture design, art, graphic design, film, and architecture. Below is a photo of Ray and Charles Eames working on an exhibition model.

Below are some additional samples of their drawings. See a doodle-type drawing, by Charles Eames, which is themed about life around the house; collage drawing of an Eames chair, complete with a suite of accessories; and an exploded view of the Eames lounge chair. The bubble diagram, featured at the beginning of this article, illustrates the Ray and Charles Eames design process. If you are interested in learning more about the Eames’ work, explore the following links:
The Eames Office
The Eames Foundation
The Design Museum
“Exhibit: The Work of Ray and Charles Eames: A Legacy of Invention”
The Eames Gallery
Herman Miller