How the simple box inspired the Eameses to serious fun.

Eames Carton City
The Eames‘ Carton City had stop signs, neighborly visiting, even miniature landscaping (top). Dotted lines printed onto the Eames Storage Unit shipping cartons indicate ideal locations for the entrance and windows with awnings, 1950 (bottom left). At play in Eames Alley and Miller Street (bottom right). © Eames Office, LLC

“Ray and Charles Eames took child’s play seriously,” writes Alexandra Lange in a new post on Why Magazine, the blog of the Herman Miller company. Many of their designs, she says, borrow on a widespread truth, “that the box an item comes in, especially if it’s a very large item, can be more exciting than the contents.”

Beginning with a selection of photographs from the archive of Herman Miller, for whom the Eames produced the lion’s share of their work, Lange revisits some of the projects and designs that drew inspiration from the humble box, and almost all of them were loaded with a sense of fun, a hallmark of nearly every piece of furniture the legendary couple ever designed. She takes us to a playful village the Eameses created for kids out of empty furniture-shipping boxes, then moves on the Eames Storage Unit, which has its own built-in, configurable fun; the House of Cards; and The Toy, which was a building set that drew on the basics of the box and was created in two sizes.

“The humble cardboard box offers children their first chance to make space for themselves,” she says, “whether that’s a racecar, a robot, or a house.”

Explore the full blog post Serious Fun at Why Magazine.

House of Cards and Charles Eames
Notches in the House of Cards have to make them easy to connect. Charles Eames, right, at play, 1952. © Eames Office, LLC