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House of Cards Mock-up Process (Heart Cards)

Ray Eames


Inspired by the childhood pastime of precariously stacking playing cards, House of Cards is one of several toys the Eames Office designed in the early 1950s that helped children learn basic principles of construction. 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 “Picture Deck,” for which objects from around the Eameses’ home were carefully selected, arranged, and photographed, and the “Pattern Deck,” featuring a range of mostly geometric patterns largely sourced from fine papers. This mock-up shows a design that did not ultimately appear in the deck. The red hearts that Ray carefully cut and pasted to each card call to mind the Ace of Hearts from a traditional card deck, suggesting how the Eameses took standard playing cards as a starting point for further experimentation. Although this design was ultimately not included, hearts are found elsewhere in the Eameses’ work (for instance, as a cutout in the back of their molded plywood children’s chairs) and appeared often in Ray’s correspondence, notes, and sketches.

  • Medium:Collage on card
  • Dimensions:3 1/2 x 2 1/4 in. (8.9 x 5.7 cm)
  • Item:T.2019.2.307