Project Description


(1973) (RT 90:00)
(Produced and Directed by Perry Miller Adato)
Furniture designer, architect, filmmaker, exhibit designer, designer in industrial and graphic fields, the work of Charles and Ray Eames is difficult to categorize. As emphasized by the title, the documentary encompasses the Several Worlds of Charles and Ray Eames making clear that Ray Eames, his wife, was a crucial and inseparable creative partner in every aspect of their accomplishment.

From the early 1940’s onward, this remarkable duo would revolutionize modern mass furniture design, innovating the use of new materials–fiberglass, plastic resin and wire mesh for chairs – in unprecedented ways. Their advanced use of molded plywood and leather made possible the famous Eames Lounge Chair, which can still be found in apartments of subscribers to the New Yorker – and beyond. Charles and Ray Eames
are credited with unusual and avant-garde use of industrial materials in architecture, materials used extensively in the ultra-modern experimental house he and Ray built in record time on the Pacific Palisades, CA in 1949. (It is now a National Historical Landmark.) As Charles and Ray describe the building of their home on-camera, a vivid sequence of photographs animates its construction.

Their intense creativity and the variety of their interests soon found expression in the production of short films. Starting with their toy collection, their many films, playful or serious, encompass their off-beat ideas and experiments both artistic and scientific. Their film Powers of Ten takes a complicated idea about the relative scale of the universe in factors of 10 and makes it amazingly clear in accessible, visual terms.
It is their exhibits and films about computers that reveal a prophetic vision, for Eames foretold the revolutionary future roles of computers, decades before they became a world-changing reality.

In 1973, on the occasion of a large retrospective of their achievement in furniture design at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, Charles and Ray consented to be filmed and interviewed at MOMA and to be filmed within their latest exhibition on the history and future of the computer at the IBM building in Manhattan. Later, Charles reluctantly agreed to a biography of their lives and work as well while protesting that it was too soon for a summing up. Yet once filming began, his cooperation was unstinted. The filmmakers were given free access to the whole remarkable range of their activities, to excerpts from their films and to their vast photographic archives. A fourteen year-old Charles Eames is seen at work at the Laclede Steel Company.

Charles and Ray’s close collaboration and their individual identities are revealed through extensive filming of the couple at work in their legendary Venice CA studio and in far ranging interviews at their Palisades CA home. Buckminster Fuller provides a typically eccentric interview; architects Kevin Roche and Elliot Noyes and architectural critic Peter Blake contribute perceptive, collegial insights; Philip Morrison, noted physicist, lends his brilliant and lively acumen.


“The study, produced and directed by Perry Miller Adato for WNET/13 covers all the major areas of the Eames’ interests and accomplishments, but the best, in terms of effective television, is crammed into the first third of the program. This deals with architecture and furniture design…that much works beautifully, neatly linking biographical influence, ideas and concrete results. Illumination is cast on the creators and the creative processes….

Much of the material, especially excerpts from Eames films, is historically valuable. And the documentary has obviously been made with loving care by Mrs. Adato.”
–John J. O’Connor, New York Times


“Charles Eames (1907-1978) was an architect, designer, science communicator, filmmaker, photographer and 20thcentury Renaissance man. This film explores the rich career he shared with his wife Ray, a painter who trained under Hans Hoffman and who became his professional partner in 1940. Trained as an architect, Charles Eames is most widely known as a designer particularly for his lounge chair (with ottoman) in black leather on a rosewood frame, known simply as “The Eames Chair.”
Montreal International Festival of Film on Art


Director: Perry Miller Adato
Producer: Perry Miller Adato
Associate Producer: Lois Cunniff
Editor: Nina Schulman
Assistant film editor: Jill Demby
Camera: Les Blank, Daniel Dominy, Morton Goldenberg, Paul Goldsmith, Gene Searchinger
Photo Animation: John Anthes,
Music Supervision: John Adams
Production Supervision: Donald Sussman
Production Assistant: Lynn Kevin Hott
Sound: Maureen Gossling, Jerry Bruck, Peter Hliddal, Frost Wilkenson

Charles Eames
Ray Eames
Philip Morrison, MIT
Eliot Noyes
R. Buckminster Fuller
Kevin Roche
Elmer Bernstein, Composer Toccata For Toy Trains
Ray Redheffer, UCLA
Peter Blake, Architect, Editor

Our special thanks to the staff of the office of Charles and Ray Eames
and The Museum of Modern Art, N.Y
The California Museum of Science and Industry, LA
Herman Miller, Inc.
Cultural Section of the Embassy of Finland
Opening in Moscow
D.A. Pennebaker
Jean Jackson Holland
Lily Saarinen
The Viking Press
Hedrick Blessing
Knoll International
Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum
The MIT Press
U.S. News & World Report
German Information Center
International Museum of Photography
The New York Public Library

A production of WNET/13
© 1975 Educational Broadcasting Corporation