Pat Kirkham will be presenting at the Modern Design History Seminar on Wednesday, December 7 at 6 pm. Her talk is entitled “Charles and Ray Eames: The Hollywood Connections.”


Pat Kirkham is Professor Emerita at Bard Graduate Center and was recently appointed Professor of Design History at Kingston University. She studied history as an undergraduate at the University of Leeds and received her PhD from the University of London. She taught the history of architecture and design as well as film and media studies at De Montfort University in England before moving to Bard Graduate Center. Her many publications include Charles and Ray Eames: Designers of the Twentieth Century (MIT Press, 1995); Women Designers in the USA, 1900–2000: Diversity and Difference(ed. and contributing author; Yale UP, 2000); Saul Bass: A Life in Film and Design(Laurence King, 2011); The Gendered Object (ed. and contributing author; Manchester UP, 1996); and History of Design: Decorative Arts and Material Culture, 1400–2000 (ed. with Susan Weber; Yale UP, 2013). She is currently in residence at Bard Graduate Center as a Research Fellow where she is working towards completing a book on the multiple interconnections between Charles and Ray Eames and Hollywood. Her study brings together social, cultural, design, film, and political history, and she is keen to assess the interrelations between the Eameses’ networks of friendship and acquaintance and those related to work.

This talk draws upon Kirkham’s research on recently available documents and photographs in the Charles and Ray Eames Papers in the Library of Congress that relate to the Eameses and Hollywood. She will focus on the blurred boundaries between the Eameses’ personal and professional relationships with a variety of Hollywood figures, and the resultant design and film commissions they undertook. Examples stretch from designing a house for film director and producer Billy Wilder to working as consultants on Hollywood feature films. Kirkham will also touch upon the ways in which the Eameses dealt with the Cold War “Red Scare” in Hollywood from the late 1940s through the 1950s.