Design for the masses. Make the best for the most for the least.
The work of the Eames Era is a work of a world driven by playful curiosities that led to daring creative pursuits manifested in furniture, toys, films, photography, buildings, exhibitions, & so many other facets of design.
A few weeks ago I had the opportunity to visit the home of Charles & Ray Eames, also known as Case Study House No. 8 (Pacific Palisades, CA), this house is a living & breathing machine of design! It’s the perfect compliment of work and play. It’s humbly set on the site, proportionally sized for its needs, honestly detailed, and presents an innovative response to the cultural changes of its time. When you walk onto the site, the building takes you by surprise; you don’t even know its there until a single panel of an Eames red/orange panel pops out from the landscape, you are transcended into the Eames Era. Walk around the site and you can literally feel why it’s amazing.
Experience driven, the house taps into all your senses, you can smell the line of eucalyptus trees, feel the salt water air, experience the subtle breeze, and grasp the scale of this building in relation to you. There is clearly a narrative to this building and the elements on site really do all the speaking, you’re simply the guest.
One of the most commendable characteristics about the way the Eames’ worked was their approach to process. They never let style or aesthetic dictate the end product. While they were designing their house they were also exploring free form concepts for chairs, two incredibly different projects with a shared approach of process yet they both yielded different aesthetic outputs. Process driven design predicated all of their work.
Their ability to test what materials could be & redefine stereotypical understanding of those materials is relentless and impressive. This is seen in the use of steel as the chosen material for the building framework (atypical of the time), it's also seen in their earlier work as they explore compound curves with molded plywood in their 30 year chair investigation.
What really stuck with me was their commitment to iteration, to build and test over and over again until the final design was complete, & even then years later their work was always iterating, referring back to the lessons of previous projects & borrowing for future aspirations. When you do this and tangibly experience the design process, you start to see details that never would have surfaced in drawing or perspective renders-a great example of this is the design of the Eames house itself, Charles & Ray 'finished' the design in 1946, while waiting for materials to ship (a process that took 2 years because of the war), they had ample time to play and learn from the site...in doing so they realized that their initial design wasn't actually complete at all, so they went back to the drawing boards and re-designed based on their years of experience working/playing with the site. The new design used all the materials of the original concept, with the exception of ordering 1 extra beam to yield what's on site today. In 1949 on Christmas Day, they moved in.
I am inspired by their fascination with toys, photography, and film…all tools used to discover and showcase ways to see the world differently..."Toys are not as innocent as they look, they are preludes to other serious things." This playful approach transcended into much broader perspectives, including their views on living. In Eames: The Architect and The Painter, Charles & Ray emulate a lifestyle perspective: life was work and work was life. When you love what you do, this idea makes so much sense, its progressive, boundless, & simplified.
In my own experience, when you can achieve that sense of harmony in what you do, you never want to stop. It’s addictive and more then ever, it makes you feel alive, instilled with the desire to continue exploring, venturing, & learning. At the core of our pursuits, isn't that we're all trying to do?
An excerpt from An Eames Primer
about what it's like to be at the house, "Evenings it is like a little jewel, set behind the row of trees dropped to black by the end of the gloaming. Later still, when the traffic fades enough to reveal the sounds of the sea, you begin to hear the crash of waves and it startles you the first time each night. And every once in a while, in a certain season, the mist makes it so you can't see one end of the house from the other. The morning light awakens warm eucalyptus shadows in the sliding panels of fiberglass resin that provide a rigid veil for some of the windows. The chiaroscuro dance of the distinctive crescent shadows surprises at first, because then you realize that by a quirk of the coastline, the Eames House actually faces slightly east. And on that kind of bright morning, there is to me no more special interior view in Los Angeles (or possibly anywhere) than that over the railing of the master bedroom into the living room below." -Eames Demetrios
I'll never forget the moment I saw a bit of the red/orange facade through trees for the first time, I found myself smiling :)
Sun kissed from basking in the beautiful weather & views all day!