The Eameses looked at life as being an act of design. The residence is filled with the “stuff” of their living. The stuff that tells the story of their lives, interests and loves. Intangibles of color and form. Careful arrangements of objects and flowers, whose value is really based upon being part of the collections. And as some might feel, the stuff that transmutes a structure into a home.
The residence is presented as it was at the time of Ray’s death in 1988. In fact, it has changed little from when Charles was also alive, and even from 1958 when the team consolidated their creative work at the Eames Office located in Venice, California.
Books, fabrics, folk art, prisms, shells, rocks and straw baskets….groupings unified by each element’s careful selection and the overall curation. This may be a modern structure, but it is filled with, as one writer intimated, a wonderful Victorian clutter. While these objects have, for the most part, nominal value as individual pieces, they have a huge value as part of the carefully-placed collection. They help visitors to better understand the Eameses’ work via that direct experience that the Eameses felt was so important.
In perfect Eamesian fashion, the two structures are presented appropriately, which means differently. The studio is the headquarters of the Eames Foundation and is furnished to meet our needs. Interspersed with contemporary Eames furniture are objects from the pair’s work lives. It had always been a flexible-use space, changing function depending upon the Eameses’ need. It has been a working studio, a guest suite, a home office and skunk works, and after Charles’ death, Ray’s bedroom.
The original intent—particularly for the living room and the studio—was to be a very flexible space, designed with the anticipation that it would be filled with objects. As Charles wrote in the 1945 issue of Arts & Architecture magazine: The living room is a “large unbroken area for pure enjoyment of space in which objects can be placed and taken away — driftwood, sculpture, mobiles, plants, constructions, etc.”
The end result? As one visitor exclaimed in the earliest days of its building, “Oh Mr. Eames, after seeing your home, I’ll never think of Modern as cold again!