Charles Eames and His Solar-Powered Toy Cosmos

The Eames Lounge Chair is widely recognized as one of the most beautiful pieces of furniture ever designed. But as shown by this lovely photo of his "do nothing machine," Charles Eames was as much a tinkerer as a designer.

Charles and his wife Ray Eames' furniture and architecture helped define mid-century American design. But they were also tireless tinkerers and inventors, perpetually dreaming up new devices and experimenting with new materials.

In the above photograph from 1958 Charles Eames is shown with his Do Nothing machine, an early solar-powered toy that had an array of bright, moving pieces but no apparent function. In a time when toys were expected to teach something or develop some skill, Eames had a more meditative aim. "It is not supposed to do. It is supposed to be. It's whole function is in its being," he said of the toy.

Later, reflecting on the toy, he said, "we now have a moment in time which is very precious; but this is valid only if the toy does nothing." It seems to me that the photo above—the toy whirring and Eames looking hopefully to the sun—does a fine job of capturing that precious moment. [Life via BoingBoing]