Charles Eames was an American designer who is best known for his innovative and functional furniture designs. However, one of his most recognizable designs is not a piece of furniture, but rather a wooden bird that has become an icon of mid-century design. The Charles Eames bird is characterized by its simplicity, elegance, and whimsical charm, and continues to inspire designers and collectors alike. This article will explore the history and design of the Charles Eames bird, and its significance in the world of design and creativity.


The Charles Eames bird was first designed by Charles Eames in 1910. It was originally created as a decorative element for the Eames’ home in Pacific Palisades, California. The bird was carved by a skilled artisan in their backyard workshop, using cherry wood and a variety of other materials. The design was inspired by a turn-of-the-century folk art bird that Eames had collected, and was meant to be a homage to the traditional craft of wooden carving.

The bird quickly became a cherished belonging of the Eames family and was displayed alongside their other decorative objects. As time went on, the bird began to attract the attention of visitors, and in the early 1950s, the Eames began producing a small number of the birds for sale. The birds were produced in several different species, including the blackbird, goldfinch, and magpie, and were sold in small quantities to friends and collectors.


The Charles Eames bird is characterized by its simple, streamlined design. The bird is made from solid American walnut, and measures approximately 10 inches in length. It has a slender, elegant form with a curved neck, pointed beak, and raised tail feathers. The bird is mounted on a thin metal wire leg which allows it to be perched on any surface.

One of the most interesting features of the Charles Eames bird is the attention to detail that has been paid to its design. The bird’s eyes are small black beads, which give the bird a lifelike quality. The beak is sharply carved and slightly turned up, giving the bird a playful expression. The tail feathers are also carved with a fluted pattern that adds texture and visual interest to the design.


The Charles Eames bird is a significant design object for several reasons. Firstly, it exemplifies the Eames’ philosophy of “the best for the most for the least”. This philosophy was based on the belief that good design should be accessible to everyone, regardless of their social or economic status. By producing the bird in small quantities, the Eames were able to make a high-quality design object available to a wider audience.

Secondly, the Charles Eames bird is a symbol of the mid-century modern design movement. The bird’s simple, elegant design is representative of the clean lines and functionalism that characterized mid-century modern design. It is often used as a decorative object in interior design schemes, and has become a popular collector’s item.

Lastly, the Charles Eames bird is significant because it represents the Eames’ interest in the traditional craft of wooden carving. The Eames were known for their interest in folk art and traditional craftsmanship, and the design of the bird reflects this interest. The bird is a unique combination of traditional craft and modern design, and exemplifies the Eames’ commitment to innovation and creativity.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *