(fom) Tue 23 Apr 02 23:39
Oh it was so wonderful. Eames and his mother, Lucia Eames, were so generous. We even had a picnic. (Picnics were very important in the Eames scheme of things.) I've been meaning to write a thank-you note to Eames and Lucia and the Eames House people who helped but every time I tried, it came out so effusive as to seem mawkish. It's like a holy, sacred memory to me. It was magical. Just things like being *in* the house -- being in the room with that Bird (the black bird sculpture that appears in several iconic Eames images) -- walking into the alcove -- and then, going upstairs. Seeing those scrapbooks. It was just indescribable. I had a notion of writing about it but I am still assimilating the wondrousness of it, and it was nearly two years ago.
Eames Demetrios (eamesdemetrios) Wed 24 Apr 02 08:38
It's funny talking about the event. Because I re-read my post describing it as "a blast". And I stand by that quote on one level because I don't want to get too serious all the time when I talk about the Eames world. It is a lot of fun too as it combines these themes. But on another level, the event feels like it was private (even though anyone could sign up theoretically, and very few of the people who came were people that I had known before). And it was what we wanted to do: share an intimate experience of the house with a small number of people as part of a number of ways of celebrating and sharing the house for the 50th anniversary. We did a completely different event for teachers (we did a sunset visit to the house with lots of candles). 200 teachers came and we put plastic down so that people could walk through the house without hurting it. And that was neat too, but more a group experience. Then we did some web things, but the emotional core of the celebration was these seminars. It started with a visit to the gallery, and an introduction to the ideas and philosophy of Charles and Ray to kind of bring everybody up to speed and then we came to the house, ambled through it, had a wonderful spread--just delightful, the whole staff pitched in, presented beautifully. My Mom and I kind of led the tour, my wife Shelley and Tereza kind of organized the food part and the whole thing was co-ordinated by Bernadine in our office. Then we went upstairs which is a very personal space and looked through images and drawings. And there was just a lot of special sharing and conversation which won't be done justice by summarizing. There was mystery and intangibles here too. And then one wild card was that each time we went to one of the other Case Study houses on our driveway so help people understand the neighborhood component to it. And it was fun for us because it was sharing a deep experience with new friends as opposed to what we usually do which is share a short term experience--the exterior of the house. This let us give something in depth to people who really cared.
Linda Castellani (castle) Wed 24 Apr 02 09:53
That sounds truly amazing. What does this mean: > And then one wild card was that each time we went to one of the other > Case Study houses on our driveway so help people understand the > neighborhood component to it.
Eames Demetrios (eamesdemetrios) Wed 24 Apr 02 10:33
The Eames House is on a bluff where John Entenza, the publisher of Arts and Architecture Magazine and the founder of the Case Study House program bought 3 acres. He and Charles and Ray spent a lot of time there thinking about how the land could be used. Ultimately 5 Case Study Houses were built there, 1 by Charles and Ray (original design by Charles Eames and Eero Saarinen), 1 by Charles and Eero, 1 by Neutra, 1 by Rodney Walker, and 1 by Neutra which he disavowed, but is still quite nice and wonderful. And well taken care of.
Bob Rossney (rbr) Wed 24 Apr 02 11:58
One thing that's always troubled me about the house, and in particular the decorating style of having hundreds of interesting objects sitting on every surface: isn't keeping it dusted just an unending struggle?
(fom) Wed 24 Apr 02 12:14
(I'm just going to chime in and say they're not really on *every* surface. Lots of surfaces, though.)
Eames Demetrios (eamesdemetrios) Wed 24 Apr 02 13:51
Well, we are very fortunate that Tereza, who started just before Charles's death, is the part time housekeeper and she knows a lot of things about the care and feeding of the interior of the house. She is an incredible person and dusting is only part of what it takes. So, you are right in one sense, but it is manageable. And, thank you, fom for the clarification--it is dense with objects, but there are also places which don't have them.
Eames Demetrios (eamesdemetrios) Wed 24 Apr 02 13:55
I am sorry, but I did want to mention I amdoing a couple of book signings during the run of this conference: Wednesday, April 24th @ 7:00 p.m. TALK ON EAMES DESIGN: The Exploratorium San Francisco CA For more information, please call 415.561.0324 Thursday, April 25th @ 6:30 p.m. BOOK SIGNING @ Terence Conran Shop 407 East 59th Street NY For more information, please call 212.755.9079 Monday, April 29th @ 6:00 p.m. FORUM and BOOKSIGNING: Bard Graduate Center 38 W. 86th St NYNY For more information, please call 212.501.3011 Wednesday, May 1st @ 7:00 p.m. BOOK SIGNING @ Modernbooks Gallery 1060 Westwood, LA CA For more information, please call 310.209.9442 Wednesday, May 8th @7:00 p.m. TALK: AIA /UTSA Lecture Series School of Architecture at the University of Texas San Antonio Downtown Campus, Buena Vista Building Theater San Antonio, Texas For more information, please phone 210.458.4299
Eames Demetrios (eamesdemetrios) Wed 24 Apr 02 13:57
Sorry, folks, it had to be done. Thanks for your indulgence. I realize I mentioned the Explorarium one a little on the late side, but I plan to do another one at the Academy of Sciences in Golden Gate Park when our Powers of Ten show opens there.
Scott Underwood (esau) Wed 24 Apr 02 14:05
I intend to go tonight, so I hope to see you there.
(fom) Wed 24 Apr 02 15:28
I'll be there too! About the objects on the surfaces thing: I have never seen them as "interesting objects." I mean, of course they are interesting objects, but to me the exciting thing about Ray Eames's arrangements of objects is the arrangement of the objects -- the choice of which things to put in a group, and how to relate them spatially and color-and-texture-wise to one another so they just sing. I grew up in a house full of interesting objects; people used to always say "oh Felicity this place is like a museum!" -- but my mother, though she was a packrat with an eye for unusual little items and a good sense of composition, and she traveled a lot (so the items were from all over), was definitely no Ray Eames. The objects were not arranged in a wonderful manner, just arrayed or lined up on various bookcases and so forth. The only time I remember a really exciting arrangement done by my mother was when she had an assortment of conch shells she'd picked up on the beach at Martha's Vineyard and she arranged them in a spiral, smallest (very tiny) to largest. I can still see that in my mind's eye perfectly clearly, though it was in the 1940s. But I think Ray Eames could have taken a torn bus transfer, a cigarette, a few pennies, and a couple of dry leaves and arranged them in a way that would make you go "Ahhhhh." I have spent many hours trying to understand this. Probably hundreds of hours. I take little things and try to arrange them, over and over, and I never get very far with it -- even though I, like my mother, have an eye for interesting items and a sense of composition. There's something more, something subtle and elusive, going on with the Ray Eames arrangements, and I am continuing to study and ponder it. I also see the Ray Eames arrangements as little labs where form and space and color and material and harmony and utility (and a dozen other qualities) were being explored, constantly. I don't see them as decorative, but as working compositions, the sketches of an artist, the experiments of a designer. And also, there's a dimension of table-as-altar (see Noguchi on that subject), where the precise arrangement of items, as on a curandera's mesa, evokes ineffable meaning and understanding.
Linda Castellani (castle) Wed 24 Apr 02 16:44
I wanna see! My mother has that ability, BTW. She can arrange ordinary every day objects so that your heart just sings when you see them, or it fills with sadness at the beauty of it. I study those arrangements and study them and can never in a million years duplicate them. Whenever I move, I have her arrange the furniture and the tchotchkes and then I take pictures so I can put them back again, but I never quite get it right.
(fom) Thu 25 Apr 02 10:19
I went to the Exploratorium last night to see Eames's talk. The place (McBean Theatre, a smallish geodesic dome within the greater museum building) was packed -- I got there earlyish and had trouble finding a seat. No esau! I saved him a seat but he did not show. (esau, Eames asked after you, said he was looking forward to meeting you.) The speech and presentation (movie clips, etc.) was great. Every time I hear the basic tenets of Eames design explained, I learn more. I took some very sketchy notes, mostly in the later part. Here are a few excerpts from them. ---- "The extent to which you have a design style is the extent to which you have not solved the problem." (C) "What works good is better than what looks good because what works good will always work good." (R) ---- honest use of materials -- trains in "Toy Trains" look like toys [not model trains], the tin looks like tin, the wood looks like wood constraints [much about this, of course] iteration, honing off the idiosyncrasies guest-host relationship ---- pelagic -- we have to become [are becoming?] pelagic creatures, secure in change ---- It was a great evening. Other members of the Eames family were there, including Eames's beautiful mother Lucia Eames, who said a few words (Q: "How did it feel growing up with Charles and Ray, in the Eames House?" A: "It was the most natural thing in the world, and it was absolutely terrific!"), and Eames's beautiful sister and her excellent 8-month-old son. It was lots of fun. Every Eames event is always fun fun fun -- that's one of the Eames design principles! The only film we got to see in its entirety was "Design Q & A," which, as always, was great. The audience laughed at the funny bits, and later someone asked a bit nervously if this was OK, and Eames said oh yes. When I got home and told my son about it (he had to miss it because he has a class on Wednesday nights) he was eager to hear if I'd noticed all the invisible wires and cameras, which he and a couple of his coworkers at the Explo had spent the afternoon setting up. He was happy to hear that I had not noticed them at all. Apparently there were wires running along the floor all over the place, and they had taken great care to make them unobtrusive.
Chris Florkowski (chrys) Thu 25 Apr 02 10:48
Oh man, do I regret missing that!
Linda Castellani (castle) Thu 25 Apr 02 11:18
I'm sorry I didn't know about it in time to make plans to go.
Scott Underwood (esau) Thu 25 Apr 02 11:39
I am terribly sorry I missed it--I spent the afternoon working with one foot out the door, but I ended up working until after 6:00 and driving from Palo Alto to PFA is maddening at peak traffic time. I will not miss the Powers of Ten event.
(fom) Thu 25 Apr 02 18:16
The movie next Wednesday night should be really interesting. It's also at the McBean, at 7. It's "Eames: The Hollywood Connection" (I'm not certain that is the precise title) and as I understand it, it's a rough cut of a movie that won't be shown again until it has been completed, so this is the one and only chance to see it for at least a year. It's made by Steve Cabella, Eames collector and curator extraordinaire (he curated the show at the SF airport last year as well as the recent Tokyo show), who collects, along with furniture etc., "Eames Moments." Also I should mention that Eames Demetrios had to fly to NY early this morning for a book signing so it'll probably be a day or two before he's back here.
Eames Demetrios (eamesdemetrios) Thu 25 Apr 02 20:10
fom, thanks for sticking up for me--I just got in here to New York and have found generous words about the talk last night waiting for me. A nice present. It was a great crowd. Standing room only, but not overly jammed. but a crowd with a great sense of humor. Really revelling in the Design Q&A. I heard alot of touching stories. It is very powerful to me how many people were affected by Charles and Ray in a meaningful way. One guy was in Los Angeles and met Ray at the House and had amazing conversation with her and he brought me pictures of that day almost 20 years ago. It was a lot of fun.
Scott Underwood (esau) Thu 25 Apr 02 23:13
Scott Underwood (esau) Thu 25 Apr 02 23:16
Response #69 is the text to "Design Q & A," one of the most elegant and instructive comments on the subject ever made. It was later made into a short film, and I understand it differs slightly. In Engaged you can click on the hidden response to read it; in Picospan type o 69.
(fom) Thu 25 Apr 02 23:24
Thanks for posting that, esau. Yeah, the film is a little different -- at least one Q&A in the film is not in the transcript, and the final "no answer" is actually a visual answer. There are undoubtedly several other differences that I'm not noticing on a quick read-through. Some of those answers are enormously subtle. I love the fact that C&R were so good with words as well as with design.
Scott Underwood (esau) Thu 25 Apr 02 23:45
My favorite answer is a question: A. Who would say that pleasure is not useful? It seems that many recent designs have had sheer pleasure at their core. I wonder how the Eameses would have reacted to the VW Beetle or much of Apple's recent work?
Bob Rossney (rbr) Fri 26 Apr 02 08:07
That one sentence seems to me to be a refutation of the International Style.
Linda Castellani (castle) Fri 26 Apr 02 16:23
E-mail from Marc Swanson: Eames, When can we expect a Charles and Ray Eames Exhibition in the great northwest (Portland / Seattle)? Marc Swanson Eames enthusiast P.S. Would love to assist / volunteer in production.
David Gans (tnf) Sat 27 Apr 02 08:59
I am an architecture student at Drury University in Springfield Missouri. In my senior thesis I am currently investigating the ways that architecture might benifit from industrial design. This does not mean mass produced architecture, what I am talking about is the industrial designers process or methodologies. I was wondering how you or the Eames might integrate your industrial design/ furniture design interest in architecture? -shane hood
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