March 10, 2012
The Eames Foundation took a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to celebrate a historic evening at the Eames House, when Charles and Ray Eames entertained Isamu Noguchi (then Herman Miller designer), silent film star Charlie Chaplin, and Shirley Yamaguchi (Noguchi’s film star fiancé) among other notables. On that night, tea master Mrs. Matsumoto and student Shirley Yamaguchi served tea to the guests, and then had dinner. She remembered this event fondly, recalling that Charlie Chaplin entertained the group after dinner by dancing in a Noh style with a Japanese fan.
The Eames Foundation reimagined this event with a tea ceremony, again led by Mrs. Matsumoto (now a NEA National Heritage Fellow). She brought the original utensils used in 1951 and used them to create another unique experience at the Eames home. After the ceremony, we rearranged the space, offering a visceral glimpse into its flexibility, and then presented a Keiseki meal prepared by Mr. Harikawa of Torafuku. Even though the original meal was much simpler, this continued the theme of honoring the past while remaining firmly appreciative of the present.
Invitations were printed on handmade paper, while the map was printed on wood. Attendees received a special hand-thrown teacups selected during a friend’s travels in Japan. The attached article is written by a student of Mrs. Matsumoto, which was published in The Rafu Shimpo.