Looking Towards the Future: Celebrating the Launch of the Conservation Management Plan

On Wednesday, April 10, 2019, the Eames Foundation and Getty Conservation Institute (GCI) held a party in the Eames House meadow celebrating the availability of our tool for the future: the Eames House Conservation Management Plan (CMP). The day was perfect: sparkling blue sea, green grass (thanks to our many rainy days), nasturtiums on the hillsides, trees lushly green. Bright-colored Eames chairs were set in the meadow facing the house — we were ready for a celebration.

Attending were press and many of the people who worked assiduously on the project beginning in 2012. Tim Whalen, Director of the GCI, and Susan Macdonald, Head of the GCI Field Projects, spoke of their own, their colleagues’, and their partners’ passionate commitment to the Eames House project. Christopher Hawthorne and Edgar Garcia, from the LA City Council and Mayor’s Office of Cultural Affairs, respectively, presented the Getty Conservation Institute and the Eames Foundation with certificates honoring this most auspicious day. The following are my brief remarks:

This week we are honoring years of collaboration between the Eames Foundation and the Getty Conservation Institute. During this time, we have focused on deeply understanding the entire site of the Eames House: its structure, landscape, contents and intangibles, the spirit that makes it a home — Charles and Ray’s home for nearly 30 and 40 years, respectively. Our explorations utilized the Eameses’ approach to design: a deep understanding of the need, an approach they applied to their entire body of work — from furniture and industrial design to films, exhibitions, and architecture.

In 1958, Charles and Ray wrote in their India Report:

“One should be prepared to follow an investigation with a restudy of the problem, to look upon detailed problems as if they were being attacked for the first time… it will be necessary to bring together all the disciplines which can restate the questions of familiar problems in a fresh clear way.”

The Eames House was built in 1949, and so it celebrates its 70th anniversary this year. As a 70-year-old, the House requires conservation, but its successful conservation is only possible if we can continue to move through the space as though Charles and Ray are still living here, with windows and curtains being opened, fresh flowers in vases, and even a tree inside the house. Its successful conservation is only possible if the site can continue to tell the Eameses’ principles of the guest-host relationship, meeting the need, the iterative process, the uncommon beauty of common things, the how-it-should-be-ness, the connection with nature, and more.

We hope that these guiding principles inspire your understanding of the Eameses and their home and, perhaps, even become tools for your own choices in living. The Conservation Management Plan is our tool, a tool we hope will also inspire others. A tool for making sure that we may conserve this, as well as other, special places.

As we explore our next phase of conservation work, guided by the policies and recommendations of the Eames House Conservation Management Plan, we are even more optimistic that we will realize the goal of our 250 Year Project: that your great, great, great, great-grandchildren may have the same authentic experience of the Eames House you are able to have now.

If you feel compelled to contribute to the conservation of the Eames House, we are always welcoming of donations. Alternatively, the revenue from the Eames House interior tours benefits conservation, as well as our annual membership opportunities.

To read the CMP’s valuable insights to conservation, download your own digital copy of the Conservation Management Plan.

Thank you to the Getty Conservation Institute: Susan Macdonald, Tim Whalen, Jim Cuno, Gail Ostergren, Chandler McCoy, Laura Matarese, Kyle Normandin and Sara Galerne, Arlen Heginbotham, Joy Mazurek, Emily MacDonald-Korth, Foekje Boersma, the late Shin Maekawa. Thank you to the Getty Trust, Antoine Wilmering, the GCI Council, and many others in the museum, research and science groups. Thank you to Sheridan Burke and Jyoti Somerville of the GML Heritage for creating a document that we can embrace and use for the future.

Thank you to our Board members: Carla Atwood Hartman, Byron Atwood, Lucia Dewey Atwood, Eames Demetrios and Llisa Demetrios, and above all, our mother and Eames Foundation founder, Lucia Eames. Thank you to David Hertsgaard and Genevieve Fong of the Eames Office and the entire Eames Foundation team.

I must also thank the members of our team who worked on the first phase of Conservation, led by Escher GuneWardena’s Frank Escher and Ravi GuneWardena: Bojana Banyasz, Julia Strickland, Tom Montgomery, Veronica Martin, Chris Rackard — all of whose findings informed the CMP. Thank you to photographers Joshua White, Leslie Schwartz, and Mitsuya Okumura for capturing the spirit of place. Thank you to our founding sponsors Herman Miller, Vitra, and the Eames Office — as well as the National Trust for Historic Preservation, the Ludwick Family Foundation, the Dunard Fund, Nebo, and hundreds of generous supporters. Without this help, we would not have been able to undertake the first phase of work on the structure.

– Lucia Dewey Atwood

  The Eames Foundation’s Director of the 250 Year Project