The creation of the limited-edition Eames LTR from the felled eucalyptus trees in the meadow surrounding the House was only possible thanks to a determined exploration by our partners, driven by their deep appreciation of the Eames House trees. After a site-wide study of the trees’ health and life expectancy, our arborist recommended we remove some beloved trees. While this is emotionally painful, we are grateful that two trees from the original 1880s planting found a second life through the work of our founding sponsors–Herman Miller, Vitra, and the Eames Office–as well as Angel City Lumber. Together, they honored the Eameses’ respect for the “Good Stuff” and finding “the uncommon beauty of common things.”
The trees at the Eames House were carefully nurtured by Charles and Ray to enhance their beauty, while still retaining a natural look. The eucalyptus trees are living sculptures, whether presented as singles or groups of trees. To make sure that there would always be trees silhouetted against the cliff, or forming an allée along the house façade, Charles and Ray allowed young saplings to grow so that there were replacements for the future.
Angel City Lumber, which specializes in reclaiming wood, had a challenge. Jeff Perry, a member of the Angel City team, remarked, “Urban trees–with no rhyme or reason–you never know what you are going to get.” He explained that when a tree is harvested for products, there is a systematic way of pruning to maximize the straight single trunk growth to create a consistent grain. Wild trees–like the trees in the Eames House meadow–have not been groomed for prime wood. Natural growth encourages unusual limbs and shapes. These gravity-fighting limbs have tension wood, creating more movement in the drying process (the hardest part).
– Lucia Dewey Atwood, Eames Foundation’s Director of the 250 Year Project
Enjoy reading Jeff’s blog about his experience!
We got a call from Mellinger Tree Service one day.
We got a call from the Eames Foundation the next day.
We got a call from Herman Miller on a subsequent day.
Any one of these calls, individually, is bonkers for us. Collectively, it’s surreal.
Among the Eucalyptus trees planted as part of Abbott Kinney’s community greening efforts on the West Side of Los Angeles in the late 1800s, Charles and Ray Eames decided to build their home in 1949.
As of last year, one of the trees had fallen downhill from the entrance and another iconic tree, by the front door, was well beyond its life expectancy, posing a threat of falling onto the historic Eames House. The fallen tree was not to be disposed of and the daunting task of removing the others was imminent.
In an effort to honor these trees’ lives, and to maintain a notion of resourcefulness integral to the Eameses’ ethos, The Eames Foundation’s Lucia Atwood sought a way to use this tree as building material. Master arborist and tree lover Carl Mellinger, tasked with removing the tree, suggested they work with our business on repurposing LA trees.
The Eames Foundation conferred with the two companies that have the rights to manufacture Eames designs, Herman Miller and Vitra. They devised a plan to utilize the two trees to make a limited run of the popular Eames LTR tables out of the two trees coming down from the Eames House. The tops typically made from veneer core plywood, this line would be designed as solid Eucalyptus.
They entrusted us to recover the trees from the site, bring them to our facility in Boyle Heights (20 miles from the house), mill the trees into dimensional boards, and kiln-dry them in preparation to produce the 600+ LTR tables. Each tabletop has either a “167” or a “221” stamped on the underside to commemorate each trees’ respective number of the site’s tree survey.
We are honored to have been a part of this process and are grateful to everyone we got to work with on this project. Thank you to the Eames Foundation, Eames Office, Mellinger Tree Service, and Herman Miller.
Angel City Lumber