The ingenious underrated and playful toys and games of Charles Eames
With half a decade of success behind them, which saw Charles and Ray Eames thrust into the limelight with their plywood and subsequent fiberglass furniture designs, the early 1950’s would be a time to turn to something closer to home and personal, toys and games.
Charles had an affinity to the imagination of the child, evident in many of his early films, the playful nature of his work and the colorful collection of toys and games that he invented. Far from the graphic laden video games of today, Charles centered his ideas very much around the possibilities and potential of the user, unlocking their imagination and creativity through play, building and thinking.
The collection of designs, turned into reality by manufacturer Tigrett Enterprises, would all follow the same principle but would also be fundamentally different. Creativity led with boundaryless instruction, the toys and games of Charles Eames were almost certainly ahead of their time but were sadly all but short lived in production, making original versions sought after and valuable in the secondary marketplace.
The first to be produced for the market was named simply ‘The Toy’. It was sold in an unusual long hexagonal box adorned with colorful triangular patterns and bold inviting typeface. It was the ultimate in kids building with an almost limitless possibility of outcomes. Essentially it was a kit to build anything that the imagination could conceive, using colored panels and wooden dowels to make the frame. The Toy could prove to be quite large once fully constructed and this led to a smaller ‘table top’ version being produced a year or so later, called ‘The Little Toy’.
The success of ‘The Toy’ would naturally lead from one thing to another. With the same principle applied, Charles would go on to produce his most endearing and long-lasting game with the aptly named ‘House of Cards’. Essentially made with a unique pack of cards, two slits into each side would allow them to be slotted into each other, creating a myriad of possible constructions. This highly addictive and rewarding concept would see the design expanded, from one patterned deck to two including photographs, to include computer components (for IBM), and in a giant version known as the ‘Giant House of Cards’. Each card had a unique pattern or image and the creator could building them into any form they wished. The concept was very clever, lots of fun and was very much part of the building blocks of architecture, from a child’s perspective. The House of Cards would also continue to be made even after Tigrett’s demise and is so even today.
The third of the build and imagination toys of Charles Eames was named ‘The Coloring Toy’. It came complete with a set of crayons and pins, for the child to design, pattern, color and construct in any way they wished. Whilst this toy was one which utilized perhaps more facets of a child’s imagination it was also one which could be defined as consumable due to it largely being a use once product in nature.
Search, find and buy original and authentic only versions of Charles Eames Toys and Games today on the eames.com marketplace, the only dedicated online shop for original Eames design.