I was in California recently and had the opportunity to visit the Eames House in Pacific Palisades and it was an experience that I will never forget. According to the brochure published by the Eames Foundation "The house that they created offered them a space where work, play, life, and nature co-existed." Charles and Ray Eames believed that nature acted as a "shock-absorber" to modern life and was carefully considered when designing their home (aka Case Study House #8).
We didn't go inside but rather stuck to the grounds of the Eames House. I was struck not just by the innovative design of the living and working spaces, but the extent to which the natural landscape and plants were part of the overall design.
Eames House was completed in 1949 and Charles and Ray lived here for the rest of their lives. I was so excited to have the opportunity to see where this dynamic couple worked and lived. The home is currently in the state that Ray Eames left it when she passed away in 1988. As a visitor, you are permitted to walk the grouds freely, but not enter the home. I found myself peering into every window seeing piles of objects and treasures and almost anticipating seeing Ray walk into the room. I was amazed by how the space was not minimally decorated, but was an accumulation of things of meaning and a was well-worn, lived-in space. I had always associated the Eames with a very paired-down aesthetic with room for things of function only, but their space was filled with objects that told the story of their lives: of travels and experiences that informed their lives and their designs.
The location is also the home of the Eames Foundation, whose mission is to provide educational experiences that celebrate the creative legacy of Charles and Ray Eames. The staff were lovely and always ready to answer questions. We visited with my 6-year-old and her friend and they loved hearing about the importance of play in the Eames' approach design. The kids were delighted to be set up in the meadow next to the house with a deck of Giant House of Cards to play with while we continued to explore the grounds and take it all in. If you have a chance, you should definitely visit! Call at least 48 hours in advance at 310-459-9663 to make an appointment (and if you're not in the neighbourhood, check out their website).
[photographs: Jessica Reid]