Charles Eames, born 1907 in St. Louis, Missouri, studied architecture at Washington University in St. Louis and opened his own office together with Charles M. Gray in 1930.
In 1935 he founded another architectural firm with Robert T. Walsh. After receiving a fellowship in 1938 from the Cranbrook Academy of Art, he moved to Michigan and assumed a teaching position in the design department the following year. In 1940 Eames became head of the department of industrial design at Cranbrook.
Eero Saarinen, born in 1910 in Kirkkonummi, Finland, as the son of the architect Eliel Saarinen, studied sculpture in 1929 and 1930 at the Académie de la Grande Chaumière in Paris before studying architecture at Yale University in New Haven until 1934.
A Yale fellowship enabled him to travel to Europe. In 1936, he returned to the USA and worked in his father’s architectural practice and also taught at Cranbrook Academy in Bloomfield Hills. It was here that Eero Saarinen met Charles Eames. Together they experimented on new furniture forms and produced the first designs for furniture made from moulded plywood.
In 1940, they submitted the Organic Chair as a joint entry to the “Organic Design in Home Furnishings” competition held by the Museum of Modern Art in New York.