It has been busy at the Eames House! What a beautiful sight to have visitors back at Charles and Ray’s home. While still taking COVID-19 precautions to keep both visitors and staff safe, we have gradually reopened for tours, and even celebrated our annual Members Appreciation Day in person after a two-year hiatus with virtual experiences.
In addition to sharing the legacy of Charles and Ray Eames with our visitors, we have reached a significant milestone in our work to conserve and protect their beloved house and lifelong collections.
Iteration in Practice, 2022
Our new exterior guided tours enabled us to emerge from covid closures with a rich experience, allowing visitors to enjoy the site more intimately, as Charles and Ray might have had themselves.
Another visitor option? Bring Your Own Picnic, a quintessential Eamesian experience that led to the design of the Eames House we know today. Even before the house was built, Charles and Ray would come to the grounds with baskets of prepared food and a blanket to enjoy picnics under the canopy of eucalyptus trees, where they fell in love with the meadow, and chose not to build the Bridge House.
Members Appreciation Day was back on site! In addition to enjoying the grounds, members were invited back inside the house for interior tours hosted by Eames family members and some of our long-time docents. One of the highlights of the day was the “I SPY” activity which encouraged close looking, and the checking of assumptions. Join in on the “I SPY” fun by visiting our instagram, and consider joining us next year by becoming a member.
Problem Solving at the Eames House
At the Eames Office, one staffer was always charged with taking care of the Eames House. Charles and Ray always advised that when it came to doing repairs at the Eames House, one must keep the look the same, but if the fix could make the structure work better, then do it.
We still follow this guidance today. We are delighted to work with Architectural Resources Group, which has led the development of our Master Plan of Work adopted in 2022, based upon the Getty Conservation Institution’s Eames House Conservation Management Plan.
Our goal is to future-proof the site, as well as to save the maximum amount of the original fabric as possible. We believe that the retention of the original materials and their nuances are critical to maintaining the spirit and feel of the site… after all, the designers are well known for saying: “The details are not the details. They make the design.”
Only in this way may we hope to achieve the goal of our 250 Year Project, that when your great, great, great, great grandchildren come to visit, they may have the same authentic experience as you may have today.
And yet the challenges are many: fire risk, drought, climate change, earthquake, hillside stability, aging of materials and trees, to name just a few. As our region’s drought has deepened in severity, fire risk has grown; it is now a critical priority. We will continue to address this risk with the first phase of our work scheduled for early 2023.
We work with individuals and companies that understand that the most appropriate solution (to paraphrase Ray) incorporates the deep knowledge of many experts working together in order to address as many challenges as possible.
Our plan is holistic, balancing the needs of structure, contents, landscape, visitors and stewards. It applies old knowledge, knowledge that embraces nature, as well as science-based solutioning. Here, cisterns and fire-resistant plantings are combined with state-of-the-art systems. It respects sustainability, recognizing the value of the “uncommon beauty of common things”. (Enjoy their 1970 Goods film!)
Challenges are big and small, requiring an unrelenting focus and a creative team. For example, our plumber created a custom set up to fit under the sink to avoid drilling into the surrounding Berger steel cabinets. Our locksmith replaced the tension wire and spring–coiling it by hand for fit, carefully conserving the original lock. The Getty Conservation Institute continued its studies of the original cemesto panels–a key element of the structure’s skin, replacing a few in order to study their aging and suitability as replacements for too-damaged panels.
The contributions of the many experts who have helped us prepare for the future are exciting. We look forward to moving forward in 2023, and continuing the work that will ensure the success of our 250 Year Project.
The Eames House Featured this Year
We are grateful to have been featured in multiple online and printed publications this year. Please enjoy reading through those we found available online on through the Getty Museum and Financial Times. We would also like to shout out to a special exhibition that took place this past spring at Milan Design Week featuring designs and objects created by Lucia Eames, Charles’ daughter and Eames Foundation Founder. You can view photos from Seeing With the Heart, the title of the exhibition, on the Lucia Eames website.
Thank You for Your Support!
As we move forward into a new year, we want to express our gratitude for your support of the Eames Foundation, and sharing in Charles and Ray’s legacy. See you in 2023!