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Ray’s Hand

House of Cards Mock-up Process (Box 2)

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. With 108 unique designs, the cards were split between two decks: the “Pattern Deck,” featuring a range of mostly geometric patterns largely sourced from fine papers, and the “Picture Deck,” which included objects from the Eameses’ home that had been carefully selected, arranged, and photographed. The Eameses designed many different boxes for House of Cards over the years. This mock-up for one of them displays an all-over pattern of small rectangles arranged in a neat grid. Its meticulous crafting offers evidence of Ray’s hands-on design process: brightly colored cut-paper rectangles alternate with carefully inked depictions of the cards’ reverse side, which bore an asterisk, sometimes described as a sunburst.

  • 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.2019.2.306