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House of Cards Mock-up Process (Box 1)

Ray Eames


House of Cards is one of several toys the Eames Office designed in the early 1950s that helped children learn basic principles of construction. It was inspired by the childhood pastime of precariously stacking playing cards, but the Eameses transformed the game by creating rigid, plastic-coated paper cards with six notches spaced around their edges, which allowed them to slot together into sturdy and expansive structures. The Eames “houses” were also far more colorful than conventional card towers thanks to the 108 unique designs that appeared on them. These were split between two decks: the “Pattern Deck,” which featured a range of mostly geometric patterns largely sourced from fine papers, and the “Picture Deck,” for which objects from the Eameses’ collections had been carefully selected, arranged, and photographed. The Eameses designed many different boxes for House of Cards over the years. This early mock-up for one of them mirrors the title card included in the Picture Deck. The colorful cut-paper rectangles are marked with carefully inked letters and serve as evidence of Ray’s hands-on process. In the final design, the two horizontal black rectangles would be overlaid with white text, one reading “DESIGNED BY CHARLES EAMES” and the other displaying the trademark of the game’s manufacturer, Tigrett Enterprises.

  • Medium:Collage on wood block
  • Dimensions:3 5/8 x 2 1/2 x 3/4 in. (9.2 x 6.4 x 1.9 cm)
  • Item:T.2019.2.305